Ryan McDonagh is a 27-year-old defenseman for the New York Rangers. He is coming into the prime of his career, earning an All Star selection last season.
This season is the NHL’s first in a partnership with Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonagh, the Rangers’ captain, was tapped as one of the spokespeople for it. This is the first partnership the coffee shop chain has made with any professional sports the league, becoming the “official U.S. coffee, donut and breakfast sandwich of the NHL.” As part of this partnership, Dunkin’ will be a part of a handful of NHL events over the course of the season, including the Winter Classic and the Centennial Classic. Joining McDonagh as spokesperson is David Backers, forward for the Boston Bruins. This partnership seems like a very smart one for the NHL, as many fans come from northern parts of the United States where Dunkin’ Donuts already has a very strong following. For McDonagh, this opportunity represents yet another way for the star to solidify himself as one of the most prominent and well-respected players in the NHL. Check out the article below to read more about Ryan and this new partnership between the NHL and Dunkin’ Donuts.
The National Hockey League currently employs a point system where teams receive two points for a win, one point for an overtime loss, and no points for a regulation loss.
Some will argue that this system works well and does not need to be amended. Others (including ESPN contributor Pierre Lebrun, who provides his thoughts in the article linked below) believe that the NHL should move to a system where teams would receive three points for a regulation win, two points for an overtime win, one point for an overtime loss and no points for a regulation loss. There are a few reasons for this. For one, the current system provides so much artificial parity that the best teams are not able to show their talent in the standings. As of December 6th, 15 teams (half of the NHL) are separated by only a handful of points nearly 30 games into the season. Clearly there is a difference in skill amongst these 15 teams, but the standings do not reflect this. Additionally, this new system would provide motivation for teams to want to win games in regulation. Currently, teams receive the same number of points for a regulation win as they do for an overtime/shootout win. Because of this, teams do not have any motivation to break a tie in regulation when they can do it in overtime for the same number of points. This is why we see so many games going into extra time. The proposed system would address this.
Throughout, the 1950’s and 1960’s, the game of hockey underwent a sort of revolution centered around a new phenomenon: the slap shot. One of the innovators of the shot was Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion of the Montreal Canadians (pictured above), earning his nickname because of his howitzer of a slap shot that terrified opponents.
The game has changed quite a bit since Boom Boom hung up his skates, but the slap shot remains a tool in the offensive arsenal of hockey players around the globe. In a recent article linked below from Bleacher Report, the ten hardest slap shots in NHL history are ranked. I found the list very compelling, and not surprisingly Boom Boom was included, taking the number nine spot. I won’t spoil who took the crown, but the list does bring up a very interesting point that is often not considered. Slap shots today are regularly clocked well over 100 mph, far faster than any era before. This is partially because of the technology used in the making of today’s hockey sticks. Long gone are the days of wooden twigs, replaced instead by composite shafts and blades, allowing for the sticks to bend far further without breaking, which is how a slap shot generates its power. This change has made it much easier to shoot the puck hard and players have had to change their games in order to accommodate this.
“The Tragically Hip” is a Canadian rock band that has grown from a local favorite into a national craze over the past 30 years. Gord Downie, the band’s lead singer, was diagnosed with a form of brain cancer earlier this year.
In light of this diagnosis, former Toronto Maple Leaf and longtime friend of the band Doug Gilmour has rallied behind the group in efforts to raise money for cancer research, as expanded upon in the article from TSN linked below. Gilmour was a fan-favorite in Toronto and was inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2011. He compiled over 1,400 points in nearly 1,500 NHL games. Known as “Killer” in his playing days, Gilmour has championed the “Courage: Let’s Do It For Gordie” campaign, named for the lead singer of “The Hip”, donating many pieces of memorabilia to be raffled off in order to raise money. The movement looks to raise money for the Sunnybrook Foundation in support of cancer research, especially brain cancer. This is a wonderful example of an athlete remaining a role model and making a difference in the world long after his playing days have ended.
The Austin Pond Hockey Club is a youth-directed hockey program in the Texas city of Austin that was formed in 2013 by Jamie and Mary Clare Matthews.
The club uses a facility with two ice sheets, “The Pond” and “The Barn”. The rink now serves as home for more than 150 youth players and hundreds of others who have found a winter wonderland amongst the Texas heat. In the article linked below from USA Hockey, the story of the Austin Mallards is explored in more detail. The program features 10 and under, 12 and under and 14 and under tournament teams that play competitive, travel hockey, among other more recreational programs. To coach and run these programs, the Matthews’ recruited many hockey lifers, including New Englander Jason Pierce as player development director. The area has been extremely receptive to the sport, with a lot of more traditional warm-weather athletes making the switch to the winter sport. This has been a trend in recent years, with ice hockey expanding to areas in the United States that have not been exposed to it in the past, including California, Florida and, clearly, Texas. The prominence of NHL teams in those areas, like the Dallas Stars, has certainly helped this growth, growth that looks to continue into the foreseeable future.
On Monday November 14, the Hockey Hall of Fame inducted its 2016 class, when Eric Lindros, Rogie Vachon, Sergei Makarov and Pat Quinn were invited to join the illustrious few as members of the Hall, hockey’s highest honor.
It was a momentous occasion to be sure, the culmination of the work of the Hall’s 18-member selection committee. With 2016’s class inducted, the attention now turns to eligible candidates for next years class. But who should get the call? In the article linked below from NHL.com, some of the most likely choices are reflected upon. In his first year of eligibility (players must wait 3 years from their final game before being considered for induction), Finnish superstar Teemu Selanne appears to be a lock. From there, it is a pretty mixed bag and there are quite a few very qualified candidates, including Chris Osgood, Curtis Joseph, Paul Kariya, and Theo Fleury. One guy who I believe should absolutely get the call is Mark Recchi. Now in his fourth year of eligibility, Recchi won three Stanley Cups as a player and has 1,533 points in 1,652 games played. Additionally, he always conducted himself with the highest class on and off of the ice. To drive the point home, Rechhi is the only retired player with at least 500 goals and 1,500 points who has not been inducted into the Hall. I believe this should change this year.
This offseason, the Toronto Maple Leafs signed former Vancouver Canuck Frank Corrado to a one year, $600,000 contract.
Always opinionated blogger Steve Dangle has taken it upon himself to argue for more ice time for the young defenseman. In a recent article published on his blog (linked below), Dangle employs the hashtag #FreeFrankCorrado to communicate his feelings. At the time his article was written, Corrado had been a healthy scratch for every single one of Toronto’s games up until that point. While Dangle does not argue that Corrado would solve the team’s many defensive problems or even significantly improve the team’s play in their end of the ice, he does question why a player on the roster is being paid over half a million dollars to be scratched for each game. He should at least be given an opportunity to either prove himself as an every-game player or confirm the coach’s decision to scratch him. I tend to agree with Dangle in this regard, especially for a sizable young defenseman (Corrado is only 23). Regardless of Corrado’s fate, the Maple Leafs are looking to get back on track following a string of losses that have come after a hot start.