I sat down the other day and looked at some highlights from the recent 2007-08 NHL season. I saw a lot of things that I liked and disliked – which then led me to think of some things I’d like and not like to see in the upcoming season.
1. Philadelphia went from earning 56 points, to earning 95 points in just a season. Major turnarounds, even if not by 39 points, are good for the sport. So even if Tampa Bay isn’t in as much of a hole, at least have some sort of turnaround and make the playoffs. The Lightning are already headed in the right direction by hiring Barry Melrose as head coach – or maybe that’s the wrong direction.
2. Sidney Crosby dropped the gloves this year. If he can fight, anyone can. So please, let’s up the fighting a little – it’s the only thing that can draw a bigger fan base other than Melrose’s mullet.
3. Another thought on fighting: to all of the “goons” and “enforcers,” model yourselves around a kid like Daniel Carcillo. He led the league in penalty minutes in his first full season in the NHL. But what’s more impressive is that he also posted 24 points in 57 games. The points are more impressive to me because there are other “goons” in the league who put up triple digits in penalty minutes, but that’s all they are good for. Andrew Peters, cough, cough.
4. Olli Jokinen, make the playoffs already. I understand you haven’t had the greatest teams to play on, and going to Phoenix doesn’t really help, but just one first round appearance, please. All I can say is thank God he wasn’t traded to Columbus.
5. Sid “the Kid” has quite a number of commercials, let’s give someone else a chance. Ryan Miller has a great AMP Energy Drink ad, in which he even speaks some dialect of Chinese to tell a “yo mama” joke. What’s next, a Verizon ad where Alex Ovechkin speaks good English? Hopefully.
6. Keep winning the Norris Trophy Nicklas Lidstrom. Just a mere two Norris Trophies away from tying the great Bobby Orr for the most all-time. There’s no one I like to see win more than Lidstrom. He’s a humble guy when he’s interviewed and is truly grateful for everything he has.
7. When there’s a Lidstrom, there’s an Avery. Sean Avery: Shut up and play the game. I usually can’t stand Avery, but that garbage he pulled in the playoffs with Martin Brodeur just set me off (The article picture really says it all). You know what that injury in the playoffs is called? Karma.
8. Should Chris Simon play in the NHL this season, I would sure like to see him not get suspended. A stick to the face, a skate to the leg, all that’s left is an on-ice homicide.
9. I would like to see Marty Brodeur continue his winning ways, and break the all-time win record set by Patrick Roy just a few years back. Once Brodeur does set the new record, it will be in place for quite some time – and I think we can all say that no one deserves it more.
10. Ray Emery, please go to practice this year…that is assuming some team picks you up as a free agent. The Senators weren’t angry that you skipped out on a couple of practices last season – they were angry because you skipped out on a couple of practices last season and had a 3.13 goals against to go along with a .890 save percentage.
11. What do Daniel Briere, Chris Drury, and Brian Campbell all have in common? That’s right, they all made the playoffs. But they are also three players that Buffalo had a chance to resign, but let slip away. “Captain” Jason Pominville and Ryan Miller will be headed down the same path after the upcoming season if Darcy Reiger doesn’t sign them…IMMEDIATELY!
12. More outdoor games! As a Buffalo Sabres fan, I thought the New Year’s day “Winter Classic” was one of the greatest games that I have had the pleasure of watching – even though Crosby ruined my day. I mean how could Miller not have seen the backhand coming? Where else was he going to go with it? But I digress. Give an outdoor game to Detroit or Toronto, somewhere with a strong fan base – a place that deserves it. It might not go as well as last year’s game, but it will certainly draw more interest.
13. To go along with the previous request: if the outdoor game does take place at Yankee Stadium with the Rangers, can they not play the Islanders? Bring in Chicago, or Boston – an original six team. There’s a great New York/Boston rivalry at the stadium, so keep it going. Don’t bring in what I consider to be the NHL’s worst and least likeable franchise in the Islanders. Believe me, it’s not the same as the Yankees and the Mets, unless of course you mean the Mets’ triple ‘A’ affiliate.
14. Long live Ovechkin! This kid did more for hockey this year than most people know. At some point during the All-Star break, Ovechkin’s lease on life changed for the better and he seemed to be having more fun. A lot of coverage turned toward Ovechkin and his goal-scoring abilities and the NHL got back into the sport’s mainframe again.
15. Last and certainly least, Gary Bettman. This last one is aimed more at the fans than Bettman himself. At this year’s All-Star Game in Atlanta, the fans booed Bettman the second he stepped foot on the ice. Pittsburgh’s fans did the same when the Stanley Cup was won roughly one month ago. Keep it up hockey fans, he deserves it!