I know what you're thinking. You watch the NHL? Who are you? Well growing up in Toronto, Canada it's almost a birth right to watch Canada's game. So every October to early June we'd all be following along with the NHL.
It didn't matter if you were a white kid from Stratford (here's to you Biebs), a mixed kid from Pickering (whaddup Drake?) or growing up in Public Housing on the West End (yours truly) you payed attention to the NHL and thank God I did.
It gave me some of my favorite moments as a sports fan. Every Saturday Night started with Hockey Night in Canada and the classic theme song posted below. I was introduced to Canada's crazy adopted Uncle Don Cherry who's like Charles Barkley, if Charles Barkley dressed like a color blind Nucky Thompson. Sprinkle in Canada's favorite person for the 20th year in a row, Ron McLean and Bob Cole, the voice of Canada(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npkQlbPOJbM) and you'll understand why it's such a great game.
Unfortantely, the Sports Gods cursed me yet again. I grew up watching the Maple Leafs; A team who last won it's Stanley Cup when Gilligan's Island was finishing up it's last season on network TV.
How does a kid grow up rooting for the Leafs and the Bills? UGH!
To make my point it's a great game that you should give a chance to, especially with the Columbus Blue Jackets being the only professional sports team in the market.
Hours away from the most titilating NHL season in recent memory I give you "5 Burning Questions" heading into the 2011-2012 campaign.
Growing up Ovechkin
Lebron on skates. When will "Ovi" as he's affectionately known by his teammates grow up? Like LeBron, he's been the moving force behind the best regular season team during the past couple of seasons.
Like LeBron, he's much more inclined to engange in slapstick antics than his chief antagonists (Crosby). And like LeBron, he's the most talented player in any arena who, time after time, has failed in the biggest moments.
Is this the year Ovechkin goes super saiyan and hoists the first Stanley Cup in Washington Capitals history?
Pourquoi NBA, pourquoi?
It's common knowledge that NHL Commisioner, Gary Bettman, only got the NHL gig because NBA Commisioner David Stern recommended him. It was seen as Stern trying to knock off the NBA's greatest competition by sending his dumbest assistant to lead the show.
By the way, does anybody get a Mr. Burns type feel coming from David Stern? That would make Adam Silver the creepy version of Mr. Smithers right?
David, as Dwayne Wade lovingly refers to him (http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/knicks/no_ball_movement_MVqLEVt8UYKRfpbTgddc6M), is single handedly trying to sabotage the NBA season and veteran NBA reporters are falling for his S$#T!?! Stern has more equity than the guy who invented equity!
When the NHL locked out for the entirety of the 2004-2005 season, Stern's evil master plan worked. The NHL has since stumbled trying to claw it's way back into National Consciousness, which is hard to do when all your national games are being broadcasted on the Versus network. That's like if the cast of "Jersey Shore" decided to hold out for more money and then ultimately had to shop around and land on TV-1. All I'm saying is I still can't find Versus.
Fast forward to the present day and the NBA is days away from cancelling the first two weeks of the NBA season, which could lead to a "Doomsday" scenario that would make Stanley Kubrick blush.
If you think that reference was contrived and or obvious, F$#K YOU!
This is a golden opportunity for the NHL to win back fans in America and can lead to a "Renaissance" for guys named Dmitri or Pavel. You're on the clock Stern.
Can the NHL capitalize on the NBA Lockout?
Party like it's 1967!
This is getting depressing. I don't want to end up like Boston Red Sox fans who suffered for 80 some years, finally won 2 World Series in a couple of years and can only fake anger at their most recent collapse.
Do you know how old I was in 1967? I was negative 19 years old. Sh*t, I'll settle on just making the playoffs. The Leafs along with the hapless Florida Panthers are the only teams that haven't made the playoffs since the lockout and maybe 7 people in Florida care including the people who work for the team.
When you're the Maple Leafs (the NHL's version of the Yankees/Cowboys/MUFC) you can't miss the playoffs, let alone seven in a row.
We will show our frustration by throwing waffles at your general direction. No seriously we will.
I can only imagine talk radio in Toronto if the Leafs stumble out of the gate. "HEY GORDY YEAH FIRST TIME CALLER, LONG TIME LISTENER, UMM LIKE WHAT DO I DO WITH MY TICKETS, EH? I SPENT ALL MY MONEY ON THESE TICKETS AND THESE BUMS CAN'T MAKE IT TO THE SHOW? MAYBE WE SHOULD START A WAFFLE ON THE FIRST LINE, I RECKON IT SKATES BETTER THAN TYLER BOZAK!"
Is this the year the Toronto Maple Leafs make it to the playoffs for the first time in 7 years?
Will a Canadian team win the Cup?
That sound you hear is American hockey fans throwing up. A Canadian team hasn't won the Cup since the Montreal Canadians went ape sh*t during the Spring of '93. That's 18 years and counting.
No wonder the city of Vancouver rioted when they were 60 minutes away.
Let me put it in a little bit better perspective. A Canadian team not winning the Cup is like if the if the Expos or Blue Jays won every World Series from 1990 to 2007.
Canada needs it's Cup, America. Let those syrup sucking, mother canuckers borrow it why don't you?
Is Lord Stanley's Cup coming back to Canadian soil?
It's about player safety, stupid!
There he was last month surrounded by Doctors, the best player in the NHL and hockey's biggest hope in NHL resurgence.
If you don't know by now, Sidney Crosby has been out of action since the first day of the new year with an elbow to the head. He suffered a concussion and doctors don't know when he'll play again.
It'll be this season but it's not for certain. The NHL needs Crosby the same way the NBA needed Bird/Magic in the 80's.
NHL and NFL execs have been meeting trying to figure out what to do with player safety. The players are getting bigger and faster and more and more people are getting hurt.
It's the biggest question the NHL has to face this decade. It shortened the careers of Pat Lafontaine, Eric Lindros, Paul Kariya and gulp maybe even Sid the Kid.
The NHL is trying atleast. NHL VP Brendan Shanahan has been handing out suspensions like candy(http://www.usatoday.com/sports/hockey/nhl/story/2011-10-05/brendan-shanahan-suspension-reaction/50673380/1). The league is focused on trying to reduce concussions and needles head shots.
When will Sidney Crosby return to form once he hits the ice and can the NHL solve it's safety issue?