How will the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs shake out? Is this the year the Toronto Maple Leafs end their championship drought? Can the Pittsburgh Penguins repeat? Will the Chicago Blackhawks keep their decade-long dynasty going? Keep reading to find out.
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:
The NHL was quick to shoot down these reports, but perhaps this is a situation where when there is smoke, there is fire, as the NHL has a least looked a few places for future teams in the past calendar year.
Maybe the NHL doesn’t really need expansion and 30 teams are enough, but considering the potential windfall to the league’s ownership by adding teams, and you can almost bet on the NHL expanding in the not-so distant future. Thirty-two or 34 teams would make sense as the next logical step, and if you believe the reports that are out there, it might happen as soon as 2016-2017, the NHL’s centennial season.
Here is a quick evaluation of nine potential NHL expansion or relocation cities in order from most likely to get a team by 2025 to least likely:
The Winter Classic took place a couple weeks ago, but the NHL’s showcase event this season was something to remember. I would say the Toronto-Detroit game ranks up there with the first Winter Classic with Pittsburgh-Buffalo. The atmosphere was perfect; the snowflakes falling from the skies provided a great setting.
For the first time in my life I upgraded my satellite TV service. I did this because I wanted to watch one show, for one month.
Last year there was no “24/7 Red Wings/Maple Leafs: Road to the NHL Winter Classic” because of the lockout. The series featuring the Detroit Red Wings and Maple Leafs (and the game, the Winter Classic) got pushed back to this season.
If you were the Toronto Maple Leafs’ statistician, you were scrounging through the NHL record books to find out who had the record for the most points in a single game. (The answer prior to Feb. 7, 1976: Maurice Richard, with 8.)
Darryl Sittler scored 10 in the Leafs’ 11-4 win over the Boston Bruins that night, a record that is virtually unassailable. Consider that when Sam Gagner scored eight points in a single game for the Oilers last season, it was the most by any player since the 1980s.
Sittler had six goals and four assists in the game. To put that in perspective, Scott Gomez had 11 points – two goals and nine assists – all of last season. Link Gaetz had six goals in his entire NHL career.
A high-profile sports agent1 once told me that the job of every commissioner is to keep the owners of his eight poorest teams happy.
It makes sense. Think of an NHL owners’ meeting like an annual family get-together. Your annual family get-together, perhaps. Every year, a couple of siblings can’t stop talking about how miserable their lives are while their brothers and sisters can’t stand to be in the same room, appalled that they’re somehow related to these idiots. New York and Toronto have better things to do than listen to Florida and Nashville whine and complain. The same can surely be said of every league — for the NFL, just substitute Dallas for New York and Jacksonville for Nashville. In the NBA, substitute the Lakers for the Leafs and the Bucks for the Panthers.