A quick mix of the things we learned from Hockey Week, serious and less, and roll the four lines deep. I ate the pizza. All alone. Nobody else ate the pizza.
1. For the first time in two and a half months, I'm really optimistic that we'll see a Stanley Cup champion in 2020.
Maybe we are kidding ourselves.
But hope feels good, my first start time is booked, the glass is half full and I eat like a child who has just discovered free refills.
When the players voted for the proposed 24-team tournament on Friday, the transition from "We're reviewing all options!" to "We are taking steps to implement this specific plan!" has given us something tangible to look forward to – or to argue about.
"As much as is discussed," said Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving on Friday, "if the worst thing in our time right now is to determine if there are 24 or 20 or 18 or 16 teams in a playoff we & # 39; I'm having a pretty good day. "
Yes, it is imperfect, but did you look outside?
During the break, the Montreal Canadiens had a zero percent chance of reaching the traditional playoffs, according to SportsClubStats.com. The Chicago Blackhawks had a 2.6 percent chance. The Arizona Coyotes had a 16.6 percent shot. And the chances of the resurrecting New York Rangers were 21.8 percent.
There is now a good chance that at least one of them will upset his opponent, who has proven to be better in over 70 games (that would be Pittsburgh, Edmonton, Nashville and Carolina, respectively). The shorter the series, the more she prefers the wild card.
Three of these life raft clubs represent massive television markets. Hockey is entertainment. It is a business. And this format fulfills both points.
Pittsburgh's NHLPA representative Kris Letang told Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman Friday evening that the penguins had agreed to the setup, and suggested to reporter Rob Rossi that the vote was not even close.
"There is no perfect way to do this because it is not like we have ever gone through this before, and there is a script that we have to follow," blues captain Alex Pietrangelo told Good on Friday Show.
"There will be no way to do this that will satisfy everyone," said Alex Killorn from Tampa. "We will only try to make it as fair as possible."
Has Montreal earned the same path as Pittsburgh? Nah. But if Canadians can get 19 wins over five teams that are said to be better than them in two months, you will look stupid and moody if you argue that they didn't deserve this brilliant price in the end.
2. So I'm not complaining, but …
I am amazed at the intensity of the three round robin games that each of the top four seeds of the conference will play. Not only are these not do-or-die competitions, but “winning” the top seed does not guarantee the easiest opponent of the first round.
The top seed in the east, for example, will definitely play against Toronto (7) or Columbus (8). Even if Montreal (12) gets upset, seed # 1 may face a superior opponent in the first round than seed # 4.
There is also a bit of magic that happens when a squad survives the danger of leaving and hardened and confidently enters the next phase of its staple.
"If this is the case, there could be a certain disadvantage. I know if you play against a team that fought and actually went through a playoff series, it is very different from a few exhibition games," admits Killorn a.
“The top teams that have a reunion, I don't know how competitive their games will be in the future, while the teams that are down will play playoff games right away and may be better prepared for the real playoffs . "
Something I'm curious about: Since the best-of-five play-in round and the round robin games are technically not part of the Stanley Cup playoffs, are they a continuation of the regular season? Can they affect individual stats, the Rocket Richard Trophy race, Alex Ovechkin's bid for 50, James Neal's quest for 21, my fantasy league?
3. A Mike Babcock sighting!
Babcock, who has rarely been seen or heard publicly since his release from the Maple Leafs six months ago, donated a few hours after his morning water skiing Wednesday to be a guest at a coaching and leadership seminar for McGill University.
Babcock asked moderators Peter Smith, McGill Martlet's trainer, and Jamie Comp, Winnipeg Jets' associate trainer, their own questions, and then asked some of the participants.
I have to say I somehow missed the babtalk.
• On the value of team building activities: “I was involved in all sorts of professional things, from high ropes courses to camping to healing with gold medal jumps and canoe racing. Often the group of players you have determines the success of a team building event. It is not the event. It's the people.
"Team building for me: If you pay the price. A 250-pound D-man comes down the wall to run you over and you get it out? This is team building. When do you lie down in the last second and block a shot? This is team building. When you come into the room, you improve yourself. They are mutually responsible. And people love you for it. Sometimes we get confused with what team building is. "
• On the management of superstars: "What I have found over the years is that this is not as big a deal as you might think. The best players want to be the best players. They want to be great. They want to a partnership with you. [Patrick] Kane's rules are different from others. [Pavel] Datsyuk's rules are different. [Auston] Matthews & # 39; rules, [Mitch] Marner's rules are different because they have different skills not to remind you every time something goes wrong, but what they need are parameters.
“The best players have skills and a feeling. They don't flip the puck as often anyway because they have the skills to deal with the situation. I think it's about understanding the parameters for them and partnering with you. "
• As you can tell your team, the right culture has curated: "You play the last game in pro hockey and know that you will never be together again – the boys don't want to take off their gear." You don't want to go. they want to be together. They create a family culture in which everyone can be important. Everyone is responsible. Everyone is committed. In the end, these are the pictures hanging on your wall because those in which you didn't create them didn't win. "
• On converting practice into internal competition: “The harder they compete against each other, the better they get. … As soon as you score, the energy level goes through the roof. And that's exactly what they want to do – they want to compete. It doesn't matter whether it's a one-on-one game with little ice, a two-on-one game, a striker against a D, a line competition, it doesn't matter. But they want to compete. It's fun here. "
4. The presentation of Comp was fantastic as he explained in detail the big differences between head coaches Joel Quenneville and Darryl Sutter in terms of winning the Stanley Cup (Comp served both Blackhawks employees and also Kings). Different styles, same champagne (note: one was more of a player coach than the other).
Komp remembered the defensive Quenneville's reluctance to take a young Kane out of the lead for the past two minutes, fearing that Kane might cheat because of insult. Comp encouraged conversation, trust.
“Kaner knew that if he took on this responsibility, it would be another minute, two minutes on the ice. Another 10 points per season. Easy for him. He can put the puck into the net [empty] with his eyes closed, ”said Comp. "We never had a problem with him waiting in the neutral zone or something. He was right where he needed to be defensive. "
Komp has broken it down clearly: players long for touching the puck. That leads to trust. This in turn leads to more ice age and probably more points.
"Then what do you end up doing? You get paid, ”said Komp.
“We have Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler. They take 50 to 100 pucks off the boards every day before or after training. They know they need it, so it's second nature. "
5. The center of Ottawa 67, Marco Rossi, was rewarded for winning a video game-like OHL season by winning the circuit's MVP prize, the Red Tilson Trophy.
Rossi's 120 points (39 goals, 81 assists) in 53 games outperformed all juniors in the Canadian Hockey League, and his two-way excellence in all situations has made him a plus 120 player in his two OHL seasons made (he is) also a 58.5 percent man).
No wonder why the top 10 draft for 2020 has no interest in a third junior year for 2020.
“In my opinion, I no longer concentrate on playing in the junior hockey league. I'm trying to focus on pro hockey, ”said the confident 18-year-old on Thursday.
"Ask me in practice, or like wherever I have to compete, I'm probably one of the toughest competing guys they know." And I just hate losing. I try to win every situation I can … I hate just practicing. "
When he buries his disappointment at the refusal of another run at the Memorial Cup with a strong squad and waits for the draft, Rossi trains twice a day at home in Austria.
He does not hide the fact that he used the entire positive press for contemporaries Alexis Lafreniere and Quinton Byfield as fuel for his tear through Ontario.
"Of course," said Rossi. "I could hear that they talked so much about them and it just motivated me and I just wanted to be better than them."
I love it.
Rossi's pace of 2.14 points per game not only led the OHL, it was also the highest Red Tilson Trophy recipient since Erie Connor McDavid (2.55) in 2014-15.
Before Rossi came to the 67 in 2018, he played professional in Switzerland – a 15-year-old who meandered around some men who were more than twice his age. He assumed that it would take six to eight games to get used to the angles and speed of the smaller North American ice.
Rossi is not admitted to the AHL 2020-21 and admits that every team for which he was drafted will have a say in where he will skate next season. However, if he is not an NHLer, he would prefer to set professional goals in Europe.
6. Cool touch from the QMJHL.
The league persuaded Sidney Crosby to temporarily abandon the quarantine dress code and put on a crisp shirt and jacket to announce their MVP, Rimouski Océanic Alaun Lafreniere.
Lafreniere becomes the only winner of the Michel Brière trophy who is not called Sidney Crosby.
We have none other than Sidney Crosby to end the # GoldenPuck Awards 2019-2020 by announcing this season's most valuable player!
The former @ oceanicrimouski star and @ pengguins captain won the Michel Brière trophy in both seasons in the #QMJHL.
– QMJHL (@QMJHL) May 21, 2020
7. Stern of a column by Akim Aliu for The Players & # 39; Tribune.
Directly from the title of the play "Hockey is not for everyone", a reality check for the NHL initiative "Hockey is for everyone", you know that you need to read it.
To think Alius' bold article arrives at the same break that Rangers prospect K & # 39; Andre Miller was exposed to racist insults during a video chat. Bill Peters gets a job as a head coach overseas, and the NFL examines incentives for hiring non-employees – white coaches and managing directors.
Aliu continues to describe his own attacks by racists in hockey. he tries to find solutions.
“But we can promote diversity. I believe that the NHL should adopt something like the Rooney rule that requires NFL teams to interview minorities for head coach and senior football operations positions, ”Aliu writes.
“We should show how diverse our game can be. This has an immediate impact on youth engagement. Because I know there are children like me who have a hard time seeing each other in the NHL. Or there's a little black boy or girl who wants to be an NHL coach, but he or she doesn't see anyone in the league who looks like them. "
Read this powerful story last night. I'm sorry you had to go through this and applaud for sharing. We all have to do better and help make changes. Everything I can do to find out. https://t.co/qBopE6Z5r5
– Robin Lehner (@RobinLehner) May 21, 2020
8. Alex Killorn himself has a hit among Lightning fans with his Dock Talk jet ski-based mobile interview series.
Killorn works hard for his dream guest.
“Simple, man. Tom Brady, ”says the moderator of the talk show, who scored 26 goals at the same time. "Write that in all of your articles."
30-year-old Killorn sold approximately 45,000 Dock Talk t-shirts and passed the proceeds on to the Hillsborough Education Foundation, which helps children who have neither food nor educational resources.
"We have far exceeded our expectations," said Killorn, a Harvard graduate. “When I heard about it, it was a piece of cake for me. I think it's really important to give something back, especially for children who don't have the means to keep up with school.
"I just hope that with this money, many of these younger students who don't have WiFi or iPads can keep up with school and end the school year properly."
As much fun as Killorn had with Dock Talk, media isn't the only way he's considering when it's time for a second career.
"If I wanted to stay in the hockey game, I would see myself more on the management side," he says. "But if I didn't go that route, it would probably be television or something, because I don't want to exercise."
9. Already in the first training camp 2019-20 Evgeni Malkin described the new team-mate Brandon Tanev as "probably the fastest man in the NHL".
Tanev does what he can to get his greatest asset during the break. He ordered a set of roller blades online to train these intricate skating muscles. For meetings of 30 to 40 minutes, he sprints uphill, uses the fresh air over a long distance or finds an open parking space to improve his stick handling at speed.
"Of course it's not the same as on ice, but in a sense it's pretty close to what we're used to. I think it's just the joy of getting on a pair of ice skates. Whether it is is about ice hockey skates or roller blades or the puck, we all appreciate it, ”said Tanev at a zoom conference.
"It mimics the step of being on the ice as close as possible, so I tried rollerblading as much as possible, especially when the weather is nice."
Keep your thoughts sharp? Mystery. And it has evolved from a 500-piece to a 1000-piece monster.
"It's great to keep the mental aspect of you strong in these times," Tanev said. "To make your mind think and put you on ice when you are trying to think through a particular situation, I think you can do that when you are looking for a piece.
"Maybe you get frustrated and don't want to do it anymore – your mind tells you to give up – but at the same time this puzzle has to be solved. And without the part you are looking for, the puzzle cannot be completed. It is sometimes a mental challenge , especially the puzzles, which have a lot of pieces. "
So my own puzzle never went beyond this bad boy.
10. A relatively simple but necessary task for the return to the game is that the free agents agree to postpone the end date of their current contracts from June 30 to the end of the playoffs (since they are not paid in the postseason anyway and everyone understands the financial benefits of saving a cup winner, this shouldn't be a big problem).
After the Coyotes received a second life as part of the 24-team proposal – why couldn't they annoy Nashville in a best-of-five with a healthy Darcy Kuemper? – This is one last chance for Arizona to audition for the upcoming UFA Taylor Hall.
The 28-year-old Hall was open to his desire to compete with a competitor after playing only five playoff games in five seasons.
"I am not saying that he will sign here, but I definitely think we are a team that he is very interested in," said Rick Tocchet this week Emily Kaplan and Greg Wyshynski on the ESPN On Ice Podcast.
"You are talking about a man who would make a lot of money beforehand," said Tocchet. "With this whole pandemic, as he told me, he doesn't want to go through another year and try to sign a one-year contract. He wants to settle somewhere. So he has many different options that weigh [he has to].
Certainly a deep Cinderella run or, conversely, a quick exit could have an impact on Hall's decision.
11. The nifty Terry Fox commemorative edition of the Adidas Orion boots (modeled on Ron MacLean) was quickly sold out.
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Fox’s Marathon of Hope, 100 percent of the net proceeds were donated to the Terry Fox Foundation to support cancer research. Brilliant.
But that didn't stop some people from reselling them on eBay for ten times their retail price of $ 130. Pooh.
I keep my fingers crossed Adidas does another run.
12. The tooth fairy was declared an essential worker.
The most Canadian way to pull a tooth
: nicole_grennier / IG pic.twitter.com/kFhGFwtAsB
– Hockey Night in Canada (@hockeynight) May 22, 2020