So We Meet Again….

Once again the fates of the United States and Canada cross at the Olympics, last time it was in the finals at Vancouver in 2010, this time it is in the semifinals on the ice in Sochi, Russia, with the eyes of North America once again glued to their televisions, computers, and radio for three periods and sixty minutes.  This game will spur on more people to watch hockey than anything else and for a mere sixty minute, the national pastime of the United States won’t be baseball or football, but will be hockey.  For Canada, it will either be the reconfirmation of a return trip for gold, or just the final blow for a team that despite winning games, has looked less than dominate, especially in their last two games against Finland and a near upset against Latvia, but they go by.  So here it is once more the United States against Canada. Dunkin Donuts against Tim Hortons. Second City against Kids in the Hall.  Kevin Bacon versus Canadian Bacon. Neil Young against The Allman Brothers. While the puck has yet to be dropped, all we got are these comparisons and a precursor to what’s to come on ice.

This tournament, the United States has been clicking and firing on all cylinders, against Slovakia, Slovenia, Russia, and the Czech Republic, although the only bump in the road so far was against the Russians, which saw shootout heroics from TJ Oshie, who following that game became a hero in the eyes of Americans.  Through it all, they have been powered by the play of Phil Kessel, the goaltending of Jonathan Quick, and roster that has been gelling like nothing else.  Though there have been some cracks, like Quick although playing well, has been at times sloppy in net, but is still getting the job done and has been effective.  On the other side is the Canadians, who this Olympics have been winning, but have not come out as overwhelmingly winning, as some of their best players have been struggling, such as Crosby, well others have been proving to be invaluable such as Drew Doughty, and others are now out, such as John Tavares, who tore his meniscus against Latvia.  The good news however, is that they are still in contention and can come out firing on all cylinders. They are a team to not take lightly and can put up a grinding fight against the best, and will tire out other teams, such as Latvia who in the third period looked dead tired after trying to maintain a 1-1 tie against the Canadians.  To put it simply the roads taken by both teams have been interesting, and different, but still despite this they are both talented and can both walk away with gold.

However, just like Highlander, there can only be one. So who will it be? Well I’m not making a prediction, as I’m biased and would say USA all the way, but I will say is, that it will be the team that plays their style of game and plays it well.  These are NHLers they know the stakes are high, and that this is a playoff game.  So in the meantime, let’s all sit back and watch possibly one of the best games we will witness this year, or until the playoffs come.  So may the best team win, and win or lose, we can all get Timmies after the game.

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The NHL Needs To Stay In The Olympics

Reports are saying that the NHL does not want to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Arguments against the Olympics include, the risk of injury and stopping the season for two weeks in the middle of the season. But there’s a flip side to the argument. It’s often not heard, and disregarded as well. So before you completely disregard this, give it a read and think about it, maybe I have a point.

For The Growth Of The NHL
A wise man once said, “Any publicity is good publicity.” When the NHL sends its players over for the Olympics, it’s players are usually the best players in the world. Any casual Olympic sports watcher names the best players only. The best players are usually the NHL’ers. Coincidence? I don’t think so. The NHL is the best league in the world. If the NHL stops participating in the Olympics, the best league in the world participating can arguably be the KHL. The average person might only watch hockey in the Olympic, and who are they watching? KHL’ers. According to Street and Smith’s Sports Business Journal, the NHL’s goal is to have $1B in new revenue over the next 3 years (read more here: http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Journal/Issues/2013/09/09/Leagues-and-Governing-Bodies/NHL-reorg.aspx). Any sane businessman will tell you if you want to gain that kind of revenue in that short period, you’re going to need to bring in new customers. So how does the NHL bring in “new customers”? They have shows like 24/7, have more outdoor games, and do more marketing. The Olympics is a form of marketing. The players are front and center, and put on a pedal stool. St. Louis Blues forward TJ Oshie is a great example. After his shootout heroics, he has 45,000 new Twitter followers. On a conservative estimate, let’s say one out of every 200 of these new followers buy a Oshie jersey that retails for about $150. That’s $33,750. That’s 225 jerseys. You and I both know he will sell more than 225 jerseys after the Olympics are done. Well some may argue we can do that with the proposed World Cup of Hockey! Let me put it in perspective. How many of you watch the International Skating Union World Figure Skating Championships? The number I predict isn’t many. However, how many of you watched it in the Olympics? A lot more than the previous one. The NHL needs to stay in the Olympics to help the brand grow.

Injury Prevention
Ironic isn’t it? The day Garth Snow loses it because John Tavares is out for the season, you read an article about why the Olympics actually PREVENT injuries. Yes there are many injuries due to the Olympics (Tavares, Barkov, Kopecky, etc.), but what about the players who do not go to the Olympics? They’re at home taking a break. Ask any athlete, during the season they will have many bumps and bruises that aren’t serious enough to prevent them from competing, but it may hinder their performance. However, with a two-week break between games, it’s a great time to get some rest and heal up on some of those minor injuries. This can help out later on in the season and even the playoffs when players are battling multiple injuries. Sure you will lose a few players due to injury in the Olympics, but many players who aren’t going to the Olympics are being given a few weeks to rest up so they can play their best in the homestretch of the season. Also, what evidence is there to prove that John Tavares could have injured himself the moment he got on to the ice the moment he got back from the Olympics? There is none. I’m not saying that Garth Snow is wrong, but I believe that the Olympics can be a beneficial time for the rest of the team to rest up. So for the sake of players who aren’t going to the Olympics’ health, the NHL needs to stay in the Olympics.

The Olympics Rosters Should Be Better Than Spengler Cup Rosters
Call it a little selfish, but I’d like if Canada won the gold medal in hockey Olympics. How weak does Team Canada or Team USA become if the NHL does not participate in the Olympics? To put it in perspective, the Spengler Cup is played every year and Canada sends a national team over to participate. The NHL does not participate in the Spengler Cup and often many European and a few AHL teams do not release players to participate in the Spengler Cup, but it’s a good example to compare it against. You have a few AHL’ers, a few veterans, and a few guys playing in Switzerland and other European leagues. Here was the 2013 Spengler Cup Roster: http://stats.hockeycanada.ca/page/show/1051885-canada . Recognize any names? Comment below! Imagine that team playing against the likes of Alexander Radulov, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Alexander Yeryomenko! They would destroy that team! So for the sake of North American fans, the NHL needs to stay in the Olympics.

Those are my arguments. Disagree? Agree? Let us know below! If you’re shy about leaving a comment you can always let us know on Facebook or tweet me @HkyBlogger! One last thing, GO CANADA GO!

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The Curious Case of Claude Giroux

With the Sochi Olympics now underway and a brief freeze in the NHL season, the most talked about topic in hockey right now is regarding Flyers captain Claude Giroux on why he did not make Team Canada. When the Canadian Men’s Olympic team was named in early January, it seemed as a surprise too many that Martin St. Louis was left off of the team. But as of last week St. Louis replaced injured Lightning teammate Steven Stamkos for a spot on Team Canada. Many people believed that Steve Yzerman the GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning and the GM of Team Canada only picked St. Louis because he plays for him in the NHL, and he did not want to tell St. Louis for a third time that he was not good enough for Team Canada, in order sustain a healthy relationship. One of those many people who believed that St. Louis was only picked because of his relationship with Yzerman was feisty Flyer’s chairman Ed Snider. Here’s a clip on what he thought of Team Canada’s decision to take St. Louis rather than someone else like his player Claude Giroux.

I personally disagree with the remarks made by Mr.Snider indicating that Giroux deserved the spot over St. Louis. However I do agree that Claude Giroux should have originally made team Canada to begin with.
First off let’s begin with why Giroux is not a better option than St. Louis; for one St. Louis won the Art Ross Trophy last season as the highest scoring player in the league, St. Louis has averaged about 1.1 points per game played in the last 5 seasons, while Claude Giroux has averaged about 0.92 points per game. So if Mr. Snider wants to say Giroux is more consistent than St. Louis offensively he would be incorrect. Now you’re probably thinking I know nothing about hockey and there’s more to a player than offense; sure I agree with the second part, remember St. Louis is replacing Stamkos, so Canada is trying to inject more offense and what better way to do that than add last year’s league leading scorer into your lineup.
Now let’s move on to the topic of why I think Claude Giroux should have made Team Canada to begin with in January. I think Giroux is an ideal fit for Team Canada because he’s the type of player that can play solid defense in his zone, but can still put up impressive offensive numbers. In addition to that his size and speed make him the ideal player on the large Olympic ice as he has more room to skate and has a better ability to skate than some players on the team like Jeff Carter. Carter was bought onto the team to put up goals; he is a big bodied guy but does not through his weight around as much as he should at 6’4, 212 pounds. Ironically though for a goal scorer, Carter has been on a recent slump putting up 0 goals and 3 assists in his last 8 games. Jeff Carter is the type of player that can only play in your top two lines, and your top two lines are expected to score, so if Carter goes into the tournament colder than the weather in Canada, it will be hard to find a fit for him in the lineup especially in a short tournament where everyone needs to be on their game. But a player like Giroux has the versatility to play in any situation and in any forward line. In addition to that, Canada already has enough big bodied players on forward with the likes of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Rick Nash, so it would not be fair in my opinion to take Carter over Giroux based on the element of size.
F.Y.I, I do not know why St. Louis was left off of the team to begin with, but that has already been discussed a billion times.
Hope you enjoyed, follow my twitter @Zaia81.

Interview With Dylan Larkin!

Photocreds: Tom Sorensen

Photocreds: Tom Sorensen

We recently caught up with US National Team Development Program’s Dylan Larkin! He hasn’t been drafted yet, but he’s what you would call a top prospect! Currently ISS Hockey projects him as the 22nd Overall pick in the upcoming draft! Here’s what ISS has about him (This is last month’s ranking, which had him at 23rd Overall):
Larkin
He’s a great guy, so make sure to follow him on Twitter: @DylanLarkin39! You can also follow me on Twitter: @hkyblogger, and “like” us on Facebook here as well: https://www.facebook.com/NotYourAverageHockeyBlog

Without further to do, here is our interview with Dylan Larkin!
As per usual, we are in bold.

What’s your game day schedule like?
Usually wake up and eat as much as I can (eggs and fruit) then relax and stretch out, then go to the rink and do some video probably then go home eat a good meal and take an hour long nap.

You chose to play for the NTDP instead of other junior leagues, why did you choose that path?
Because it is the best place to play and develop for any American kid that wants to play in the NHL.

What’s the best part about playing for the NTDP?
The best part is putting on the USA jersey every day and all the traditions that come along with the NTDP

You are committed to the University of Michigan next year. Why did you choose Michigan over any other school?
I have always been a University of Michigan fan and to attend the school and play hockey is a dream come true!

This is your draft year, how do you maintain your focus knowing that NHL teams are looking at you?
Just continue playing and working hard to get better everyday. And you get so caught up in the game and the procedure and strategies it doesn’t really matter by puck drop!

If an NHL team asked you to list your biggest strengths and areas you’d like to improve upon, what would you say?
I would say my biggest strengths are my skating and hockey sense and also bringing something to table to help my team win every night. And I’m always working to make every part of my game better but right now I’m really working on getting stronger and putting the puck in the net.

What has been your biggest hockey achievement so far?
It has for sure been making the USNTDP

Rapid Fire Questions
Favorite TV show?
NHL Tonight

Biggest pet peeve (thing that annoys you)?
Loud chewing

Last movie you saw?
Lone Survivor

Food you dislike the most?
Sushi

Four things you can’t live without?
Hockey, my teammates, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Candy Crush

Why did you choose to play hockey?
I followed my brother onto the ice.

Final Questions
What is your advice for aspiring hockey players?
Enjoy everything about the game and listen to your coaches

Who, in your opinion, should we interview next from your team?
Anders Bjork

Thank you for your time.