30 thoughts….my version

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I don’t write as often as I used to (life sometimes takes me away from that) when I covered the Phoenix (now Arizona) Coyotes four years ago but I’m planning on making my articles more frequent. With apologies to Elliotte Friedman I’m going to use his ’30 Thoughts’ format to play a little catch up and focus on some things that have caught my eye or have been wanting to write about for some time.

This has turned out to be an amazing year for hockey across the board and the playoffs are looking to be some of the most competitive I’ve seen in many, many years.

Let’s get things started, shall we?

  1. USA at the World Junior Tournament – I wanted to start off with this as I was completely and utterly disgusted that a roster with pretty good talent was wasted by a coaching staff who could not teach these kids to play a team game and make adjustments from their one dimensional offensive zone game. This was a pathetic performance by Team USA. USA Hockey should be ashamed.
  2. So I’m watching the Sportsnet feed of the Flames/Devils game the other night and during the intermission I’m expecting to see long time Flames reporter Roger Millions but instead I see Elliotte Friedman. Why oh why are his talents being wasted doing intermission interviews?   He belongs in the studio doing analysis and NHL reporting updates.
  3. Which brings me to my next thought – Sportsnet coverage in general this season.  It seems to me that they’re just the same old average broadcast as last season but with bigger and more expensive sets (see photo above). They have some serious problems when they have people like Friedman doing intermission interviews and Nick Kypreos bumbling his way through intermission segments. Right now the top three Canadian NHL broadcasts are 1) TSN 2) CBC (last season and prior) and 3) Sportsnet this season.   Sportsnet needs to re-adjust their priorities. Perhaps watching broadcasts from #’s 1 and 2 would help to get their broadcasts on track because it’s really hard to watch what they pass off as a broadcast at times.
  4. One player to keep an eye on the rest of the season is Calgary Flames goaltender Karri Ramo who has re-ignited his career after having a glove side that was almost as bad as Chris Osgood’s used to be. His ‘goal of the year’ candidate the other night in New York is a huge example of how improved his game has become.   Now if the Flames could only get their offensive zone game together.
  5. One story that doesn’t surprise me is the New York Islanders. I’ve been watching their progress for years and have said before this season that they were just a few pieces away from doing something special. Look at them now. They have the pieces on paper to make a deep run in the playoffs. However, it remains to be seen if they have the mental strength to withstand the onslaught of a deep playoff run.
  6. While on the topic of the Islanders, I’m curious to see what General Manager Garth Snow is going to do (or not do) at the trade deadline
  7. In case you haven’t noticed the Arizona Coyotes are neck and neck with the Edmonton Oilers for a high draft pick at the next entry draft.   No they don’t have the talent they used to but what I’m noticing is that they’ve quit not on coach Dave Tippett but themselves.
  8. Arizona Coyotes Goaltender Mike Smith – I’m not sure what happened to him but he’s a shell of the player he used to be. He’d be a good backup for any team at the deadline but in no way is he ready to take the load as a starter. Look at the work that Goaltending coach Sean Burke has done on Devan Dubnyk and Ilya Bryzgalov (when he was with the Coyotes). If he can’t work his magic on Smith, there’s something wrong with the player.
  9. Trade deadline is a few days away. One thing to keep an eye on is what the playoff bound teams up against the cap ceiling are going to do. Keep that in the back of your mind as the trade deadline approaches.
  10. You know when it comes to the Bruins performance this season there’s one thing that hasn’t been brought up for discussion. Have so many years of playoff runs (some deep) and short off-seasons finally caught up with the core of their roster? Do they need a full off-season to rest and relax?
  11. I’ve seen so many dumb articles about the NHL in Seattle that it makes me want to vomit (Disclosure: I spent a good portion of my life living in Seattle so I know how the politics work there). Until an arena deal is done, dream and wish all you want.  No professional league is going to touch Seattle with a ten foot pole. End of story.
  12. Speaking of the NHL in Seattle it looks like the environmental review will (FINALLY) be done May 7th AND the City of Seattle is willing to change the Memorandum of Understanding to allow NHL be the first tenant in the arena. This is huge as the City of Seattle saved themselves from a third round of ineptitude of poor arena related decisions (the others being allowing Key Arena being built as an NBA only arena and allowing the NBA Seattle SuperSonics to leave town). Source
  13. If ever there was a prime example of how former Vancouver Canucks head coach John Tortorella was a poor assessor of talent, look no further than the performance of Jannik Hansen this season.
  14. Even all the months after his firing, Dallas Eakins is still the whipping boy for the Oilers problems. Wake up people. He’s not. He should have never taken the job if he had to take the assistants that the Oilers forced upon him.
  15. You have to wonder when the Edmonton Oilers are going to realize that they don’t know the difference between their elbows and their feet when it comes to developing players.
  16. Dear Winnipeg Jets, it’s time to take down the Manitoba Moose banners from the rafters. They don’t play there anymore and it’s time to start making new traditions with the Jets.
  17. So at this point in the season, is Montreal Canadiens defenseman PK Subban worth the money he’s making? Ask me again at the end of the season.
  18. If ever there were good signs that the Coyotes are staying for the long term, they are investing in local hockey in the area as well as wanting to bring the Frozen Four and the 2018 World Juniors to Phoenix.
  19. In case you haven’t heard one of the biggest stories in Arizona Hockey history is that Defending National (Club) Champions Arizona State University Hockey will become a full Division 1 Varsity sport next season. They’re already poaching key NHL prospects from other big schools mainly because of the weather. Keep an eye on this story. This is an amazing program that finally gets to take the next step forward in its history.  I’ve been watching this team grow from nothing to where it’s at today first hand.  Source 1 Source 2
  20. If there’s one thing the Arizona Coyotes are completely and utterly failing at off the ice, it’s the online marketing. They. Just. Don’t. Get. It.
  21. At the beginning of the season the New York Rangers were a defensive sieve. Everyone was worried about defense and how they can fix it. What most Rangers fans didn’t know at the time, head coach Alain Vigneault is master of not only assessing talent but getting the most out of the players on his roster from snipers to fourth liners.
  22. Face it, the San Jose Sharks are a mere shell of who they used to be. Time is running out for the main architect of this team, General Manager Doug Wilson. This team has been mentally weak in the playoffs and Wilson has never addressed this problem dating back to 2006.
  23.  In (Ottawa Senators goaltender) Andrew Hammond’s last two games he earned two shutouts against the Ducks & Kings in his third and fourth NHL starts. His shutouts were a team accomplishment but when he had to, Hammond made the stops and looked like a seasoned veteran.
  24. Trade Deadline – Yes I’ll be up watching this all day long as I’m curious to see how the make up of the NHL will be after the deadline passes.
  25. The Toronto Maple Leafs are not only cutting dead weight from their roster but General Manager Dave Nonis finally gets to put a bonified thumbprint of his own on this team.
  26. Who called it? – The Canucks, the Predators, and even the Coyotes. Who could have guessed these teams would have been where they are now at this point in the season?
  27. Dear NHL, you promised (on the record) to the people of Arizona an All-Star Game once the ownership circus was over. The fans are still waiting to see this happen.
  28. Coach’s Corner – I’m still shocked that this segment is shorter than last season. Really Sportsnet? Do you not get what the term ‘ratings’ mean?
  29. Winter Classic – Stop with the regurgitation of same teams for these games. Ratings are down because of this. Time for some new blood. We want to see a Winter Classic in Minnesota.
  30. Defenseman Brent Sopel announced his retirement from the NHL today. While the majority of you know him as a Stanley Cup winner with the Chicago Blackhawks, my memories of him are with the Vancouver Canucks seeing him play in person and on TV. He wasn’t a Chris Pronger but he was an even keeled player on the ice that was smart  and played his role well.
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