There are old faces in new places (Mike Babcock and Lou Lamoriello in Toronto). There are new faces in old places (Slava Voynov in Russia). Jaromir Jagr is still employed in the NHL, joining Chris Chelios and Gordie Howe as a rare “once in a couple different generations” player.
Already a treasure trove of storylines have emerged, with more on the way. Here are eight to whet your appetite for the upcoming season:
Head coach John Tortorella was fired by the New York Rangers today with one year left on his contract.
Asked directly, general manager Glen Sather told reporters on a conference call: “It wasn’t one thing, and I’m not going to speculate or start to criticize what happened with Torts and give you a lot of reasons why we decided to do this.”
It is January 6 and several NHL teams have played their 41st game of the 82-game regular season. The Calgary Flames even jumped the gun Thursday and became the first NHL team to play 42 – ironic, considering they are among the oldest teams in the league. (Slow down, Jarome Iginla, and bask in what remains of your Hall of Fame career!)
For our purposes, we will call this the halfway point – an opportune time to take stock of the good, the bad, and the ugly. Having voted in the last four postseason awards, I can attest that teams and players seem to rise and fall on a whim; for example, last year’s Hart Trophy winner, Corey Perry, wasn’t even in the conversation until he started playing like an elite player in January. There is no hardware at stake here.
So we’ll reserve the proper nomenclature on these awards for June. But if ballots were cast today …
It’s that time of year again. That time when HBO gives me and hockey fans everywhere an early Christmas present: its “24/7 Road to the Winter Classic” series, a present that I’ve been waiting for since last January.
Last year, the Winter Classic featured Sidney Crosby and the Penguins facing off against Alexander Ovechkin and the Capitals. With the two most famous hockey players prominently featured, HBO had a huge hit on its hands.
When HBO decided to add a second season, this time featuring the Flyers and Rangers, some fans including myself were wondering if it would be able to hold up to last season due to a lack of big-name stars.