Are The Sedins Hurting The Canucks?

Just call me the king of hot takes. I AM THE STEPHEN A. SMITH of hockey. Put all your pitchforks away you Canucks fans and hear me out. I promise it won’t be too long.

I think most people agree that the Sedins are productive NHL players. 60-70 points each doesn’t seem too out of reach. They also make a lot of money. At $7M a year, you could consider them slightly overpaid, but not grossly overpaid to the point of Rick Nash and his almost $8M contract with 36 points last year. At 36 years old, the decline has been coming, with his lower point totals and CF%.

The Canucks need a rebuild. The good news is that most of their older veterans will be off the books by the 2018-2019 season. Accordingly to CapFriendly, they will have $43M to play with by then. But here come’s the bad news. The Canucks think they have a winning team, and have been trying to add pieces to make it a cup contender. Loui Eriksson’s contract is a prime example of that. A $6M contract for 5 more years after this one? That’s tough. In the short term, there is some relief. Derek Dorsett is out for the year, and in theory, can help with LTIR relief. Yet, that’s not something that is sustainable. So what does this all have to do with the Sedins?

What if the Canucks trade the Sedins to expedite the rebuild? We’re operating on the fact that they are willing to waive their NMC. It seems unlikely, but could be possible. At age 36, their window to win a cup is closing fast. Like I mentioned before, they’re good for 60-70 points, and even with a decline rate of 10%, 45-52 points in their age 39 season, is nothing to be ashamed about. There are a bunch of team who would love to add a guy like that for a playoff run. But there’s one big issue. $7M is a lot of money, and who would acquire one, but not both of the twins? A trade like that would definitely be veto’d by the twins. In theory, it is possible for the Canucks to retain the max 50% on both the twins to make it a more attractive target, but that still leaves the other team with a $7M cap hit. There aren’t that many teams with the cap space to take on both of them even at the discounted $7M cap hit. Take out the teams who are not in play off contention and there are possibly only a few teams with the type of players the Canucks could use.

Is it impossible? No. Unlikely? Probably. The Aquilinis have wanted to sell the Canucks for a while and it’s much easier to sell a winner than a loser. Could they be holding them back? It’s possible, but until the Canucks can clear the older, heavier contracts, the team will be perpetually stuck adding pieces to a broken machine.

Open Letter To Auston Matthews

Dear Auston,

Can I call you Auston? I feel like we’re on a first name basis now. Congrats on your NHL regular season debut. Also congrats on your first goal. I hope you got to keep the puck. Also congrats on your second goal.  That’s great! Wait stop. You’re scoring your third goal? What are you doing? This is insane. Goal number four? Why are you doing this? Stop, stop, stop! Oh good four is enough for you.

Remember the fact you play in Toronto, aka center of the hockey universe. The media hype around you doesn’t go away. Remember Tyler Biggs? The next big thing? Well that didn’t go so well. But the hype train doesn’t stop. In the words of 2004, the hype train “Won’t Stop, Can’t Stop“.  Now do I think you’ll be a bust? No. I think you’ll be an All-Star. But after one game, you would believe that he is a combination of Crosby, Messier, Orr, and Gretzky into one.  (Maybe it’s true, I’ll find out.)

But what now? How do you even follow up on that? Do you score 5 goals? Do you get a shutout? Do you do a hat trick of a Gordie Howe Hat Trick? I have a few ideas, and if you use them, just make sure to send me a shoutout on Twitter alright?

  • Score a goal while not having a stick
  • Score with only one skate
  • Assist on every goal in the game while also not playing a single minute
  • Shoot a puck over boards and balance it on Carlton The Bear’s nose
  • Buy everyone a beer in the stands (pop for the kids. Come on now.)

Let me know if you would like to collaborate for more ideas. I would love to help. Make sure to let me know on Twitter. My Twitter account is @hkyblogger. Also one thing Auston. This is all a joke. Keep on going man, but if you use one of my suggestions and don’t give me credit, that would be really disappointing. I won’t be angry, just disappointed.

Yours Truly,

@hkyblogger

Advice From An Agent and Advisor: Scott Deady!

So we’ve done many, many interviews with players, but every now and then we like to switch it up and interview hockey-related people like scouts, and we’ve done that once again! This time we have an interview with Momentum Hockey Player Agent/Advisor Scott Deady! Although agents are often overlooked in importance, ask any player and they’ll tell you right away how important having an agent is. Momentum Hockey provides services from Athlete Marketing to Tax Planning and everything in between. To learn more about Momentum Hockey check out their website here. To learn more about Scott, make sure to follow him on Twitter. He doesn’t exclusively talk about his clients and is a fun follow! If you enjoy what we do, you can follow us or like us. Without any more of my rambling, here is our interview with Scott Deady!

Editor’s note: Comments have been edited for clarity. We are in bold.

So according to your Twitter bio, you’re a Player Agent/Advisor for Momentum Hockey. Is there a difference between an agent and an advisor?

Yes there’s a big difference. Agents represent pros while advisors represent amateurs. Agents also act as advisors but it’s important to differentiate between the two because each comes with different responsibilities and, more importantly, restrictions. Some of the things we do for our pro clients as agents would be in violation of NCAA regulations when dealing with an amateur player. You have to be very careful to stay within the confines of the regulations and act only in an “advisory” capacity to ensure no chances are being taken with the players’ amateur status.

What’s a day in the life of a Player Agent/Advisor?

There really isn’t a “typical” day in my job. It all depends on what’s going on in hockey or with clients.

If it’s a weekday, I start my morning off with a cup of coffee, hop online, and check out any news from the previous day/night I may have missed. Player signings, trades, industry business…really anything pertaining to the world of hockey. Then I go through my reminders I set the day before. Emailing coaches and scouts, checking in with clients and their families, reaching out to potential and current marketing partners. Taking new calls…all depends on what happened the day(s) before.

If it’s a weekend, I’m at the rink. Usually start off early in the day with some of the younger kids. Might have to shuffle around to a couple of arenas. By 5 or 6 it’s usually time to focus on the older clients. Might be heading to a Junior game or college game, might mean watching a game online, might mean heading to the UC or watching one of our NHL guys on TV. All depends.

People often only hear about the flashy parts of being an agent/advisor, such as the contract negotiations and trade requests. What are some less flashy parts of being an agent/advisor?

Most of it haha. Best way I can describe it is with a story. A few years back I was in Detroit for a AAA showcase. At the same time, I had a client playing in the OHL who had a Saturday night game in Windsor and a Sunday afternoon game in Sarnia. So I spent Saturday in Detroit, drove across the border to Ontario that night and went to the game. On my way back to Detroit that night, there was a huge blizzard. I pulled up to the border and was the only person on the road let alone crossing the border at 2am. The border patrol guard asked me the usual questions…”Where are you heading?” “Detroit.” “And you’re staying there?” “Well no, I’ll be back in the morning.” “For what?” “The same client who I saw tonight has another game tomorrow.” “And how long will you be staying in Canada then?” “Only for a couple of hours…I’ll be coming back to the States tomorrow afternoon.” “I’m assuming you’re an agent?” “ Yeah.” “Well (as she looks around at the barren road…) I suppose it really isn’t like Jerry Maguire eh?”

Many agents have a specialty, what’s yours?

Well I’m a lawyer so I suppose I’d have to say contracts would be my specialty. Not so much the playing contracts – those are standard boilerplate, fill in the blank deals. But in order to be creative and structure deals within the confines of the CBA, you have to understand the CBA. And the CBA is a legal document just like any contract. Obviously part of law school is being able to read and interpret legal documents. It’s probably the area where my law degree comes in handy the most.

How do you as a Player Player Agent/Advisor market yourself so potential clients choose Momentum Hockey instead of other firms?

It’s all about personal relationships and your reputation. We focus on being selective with who we recruit so that each player is a person to us, not just a number on a balance sheet. Sorry I can’t give you more than that but our specific recruiting methods are kept internal.

Most people don’t grow up wanting to be an agent/advisor. How did you decide that you wanted to be in a Player Agent/Advisor?

I actually probably came as close to growing up wanting to become an agent as anyone has. Playing in the Tretiak Cup, which evolved into the Bauer Invite, we were asked to house Russian players. At the time, I was smart enough to know I wasn’t going to the NHL. But I wanted to stay involved in the sport and some of the kids who stayed with my family did have that potential. I had a slight urge to pursue a legal career and parents from my teams growing up would back me up when I say I always had a knack for sales. So I decided to skip Junior hockey, head straight to college at 18, and direct the focus of my undergraduate and law school work to put me in the best position to help other hockey players achieve their dream of playing in the NHL.

Most exciting thing you’ve done as a Player Agent/Advisor?

It’s all relative. Most of the things that I thought were “exciting” happened earlier in my career – before I was established. Meeting with the Russian Olympic Committee in Moscow was probably one of them. In undergrad I took Russian for three years and kept in touch with my Russian friends. So when I travelled to Moscow to visit some clients I was able to get a meeting with the Olympic Committee. One other notable “shake yourself” moment was the first time i received a call from a former NHLer, who now works for the same NHL team he played for. He was calling about a client of mine. As a Chicago native and Blackhawks fan, my entire childhood was ruined by him tormenting the team I loved most. I’m sure there are plenty of things I do on a daily basis now that years ago I would’ve considered exciting. Spend enough time in the industry and you realize we’re all just people working in the same industry.

Most painstaking thing you do as a Player Agent/Advisor?

I don’t know if this fits the description, but once I flew to Columbus, OH to see a goaltender I’m advising. I flew in, checked in at my hotel, showered, changed, drove to the rink, only to see that the coach decided to play the other goaltender since it was only a preliminary game of their District Tournament. I have way too many other stories about brutal travel schedules but the best stories are from when I first started out and didn’t have the resources to fly everywhere I wanted. Don’t get me wrong, I still drive a ton…and they’re boring drives. But I’d never make the Chicago-Toronto-New Haven-New York City-Chicago drive, like I did five years ago, at this point in my career.

If you’re referring to more of an emotional drain, the worst part is hearing about players being taken advantage of by “advisors” trying to get rich quick. I’ve seen emails from “advisors” (and yes i’m intentionally including the quotation marks) to coaches about players they’ve never even personally seen play. What coach is going to take that seriously? And then to hear that a family paid that “advisor” thousands of dollars? It makes me sick. Hockey is a very small and tight circle. If you’re a parent or player being approached by an advisor, make sure to do your homework and ask around about them first.

The trend is moving towards agents approaching players younger and younger, what is your stance on it and why do you believe this is happening?

It’s happening because everyone wants to win the race. If you’re the only one at the table, you have a better shot of landing a kid than a scenario where there are five other groups talking to them. There are different timelines in the U.S. and Canada. Kids are getting recruited much earlier north of the border. In the U.S., there’s a general understanding about when we start approaching players and their families. I think for the most part the more competent agencies know that the younger you recruit, the harder it is to project pro potential. So many factors come into play. Every year I pick up one or two 17 year olds who were “late bloomers.” And every year you see a kid who was “the next best thing” at age 13 fade away. Those “advising” companies I referred to before who are just looking to make a quick dollar don’t care as much about long-term potential so they might not care. That’s what makes us different.

Who should we interview next?

It’s too bad you can’t interview my car. She knows all the best stories.

Advice for people wanting to enter the business?

Don’t try to get into the industry with one foot in and one foot out. You’ll fade away like I’ve seen so many “new faces” at the rink do. Unless your next-door neighbor or best friend is on the doorstep of the NHL and wants you to represent him, be prepared for a very long road of tough hours and very little income. I spent the weekend nights of my 20’s in ice rinks watching Bantam and Midget hockey while my friends were out at the bars. I don’t regret it one bit, but it’s still a major sacrifice.

I remember a conversation I had with the guys running the first agency I worked with right out of law school. After offering me a job they told me that after meeting with me a couple of times over the course of several days, they said to each other, “this kid is dumb enough to succeed in this industry with or without us…we’d better hire him.” Even then I didn’t really know how tough of a road it would be. But today I’m glad I was that stupid at the time. To me, it was worth it to be able to do what I love for the rest of my life.

At the same time be leery of potential “opportunities.” I’ve heard too many stories of firms bringing a kid on to scout for them only to have that same company steal the scouts “clients” and push him to the side. Don’t think that getting in with an agency is your golden ticket. Surround yourself with good people and put in the work. This isn’t a “normal” industry to work in…and in a lot of ways I’m glad it’s not.

Thanks for your time.

Let’s Chat With Zachary Yuen!

As China gets ready to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, a focus is being put on their national hockey team to improve from their current men’s ice hockey ranking of 37. One of the ways they have begun that process is by partnering up with the Czech Ice Hockey Federation to improve the level of coaching that is available in China. However, another important step to improving the national team is to develop interest in the sport, and the KHL has step up to the plate. Earlier this year, the KHL announced the expansion into China with the introduction of HC Kunlun Red Star. One of Kunlun’s first signings was a defenseman from Vancouver named Zachary Yuen. This 6’0, 196lb defenseman also happens to be the first ever Chinese-Canadian defenseman ever selected in the NHL Draft, going in the 4th Round to the Winnipeg Jets in 2011. We’re lucky enough to have him here today to have a little chat about HC Kunlun Red Star, China, and what he wants from a care package.

Without further to do, here is our interview with Zachary Yuen!

As per usual, we are in bold.

Thanks for taking time to do this interview! I appreciate it!
My pleasure.

Why did you decide to join the KHL’s Beijing Kunlun Red Star?
I joined the Redstars because it is a great opportunity. Not only for my hockey career as I further my development as a player, but most importantly for the development of Chinese hockey. Hockey in China is really starting to grow, and I would love to be a part of it and hopefully contribute in any way that I can.

How do you find the facilities in Beijing so far?
The team has yet to go to Beijing. We started training camp in Finland for 2-3 weeks, now we are in Moscow, heading to Astana, Kazakhstan for a preseason tournament. We won’t be in Beijing until the end of August.

So what has your whole experience at Beijing Kunlun Red Star been like so far?
It’s been a very cool, yet extremely unique experience so far. This might be the only professional sports team in the world that speaks 6 different languages in the locker room. English, Russian, Finnish, Slovak, Chinese, and French.

How did you end up being the de facto spokesman for the team, doing things such as revealing the team logo and team jerseys?
Haha I just try to share all of the team news with all of the fans out there as soon as I hear about it because I know a lot of people are interested in the new team. Just trying to get the fans the latest scoop.

For players who are considering a contract offer from the Kunlun Red Stars, what’s your pitch like?
This is a very big deal in the world of hockey, in China and globally. This is opening a door to many opportunities for the sport of hockey. If you want to be a part of something historic, then this would be the place to play.

You’re going to get a care package from Canada during the season. What do you want in it?
My mom’s homemade meals!

Final question: Who should we interview next?
Depends what you’re looking for. Too diverse of a group haha.

Thanks for your time.

Make sure to follow Zachary on Twitter. You can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

 

Final Mock Draft

With the draft rapidly approaching, here is our final draft rankings:

  1. Toronto Maple Leafs – Auston Matthews
  2. Winnipeg Jets – Patrik Laine
  3. Columbus Blue Jackets -Jesse Puljujarvi
  4. Edmonton Oilers – Matthew Tkachuk
  5. Vancouver Canucks -Pierre-Luc Dubois
  6. Calgary Flames – Olli Juolevi
  7. Arizona Coyotes – Mikhail Sergachev
  8. Buffalo Sabres – Alex Nylander
  9. Montreal Canadiens – Logan Brown
  10. Colorado Avalanche – Clayton Keller
  11. New Jersey Devils – Tyson Jost
  12. Ottawa Senators – Max Jones
  13. Carolina Hurricanes – Michael McLeod
  14. Boston Bruins – Jacob Chychrun
  15. Minnesota Wild – Charlie McAvoy
  16. Detroit Red Wings – Julien Gauthier
  17. Nashville Predators – Kieffer Bellows
  18. Philadelphia Flyers – Luke Kunin
  19. New York Islanders – German Rubstov
  20. Arizona Coyotes – Riley Tufte
  21. Carolina Hurricanes – Dante Fabbro
  22. Winnipeg Jets – Brett Howden
  23. Florida Panthers – Jake Bean
  24. Anaheim Ducks -Rasmus Asplund
  25. Dallas Stars – Samuel Girard
  26. Washington Capitals – Libor Hajek
  27. Tampa Bay Lightning – Pascal Laberge
  28. St. Louis Blues – Tage Thompson
  29. Boston Bruins – Alex DeBrincat
  30. Anaheim Ducks – Logan Stanley

 

Updated Lottery Mock Draft!

It’s that time of the year, the lottery’s done, and the dust has been settled. So given the knowledge we have, here’s our updated mock draft. We have a few explanations below, so tell us what you think!

  1. Toronto Maple Leafs – Auston Matthews
  2. Winnipeg Jets – Patrik Laine
  3. Columbus Blue Jackets -Jesse Puljujarvi
  4. Edmonton Oilers – Jacob Chychrun
  5. Vancouver Canucks – Pierre-Luc Dubois
  6. Calgary Flames – Matthew Tkachuk
  7. Arizona Coyotes – Mikhail Sergachev
  8. Buffalo Sabres – Alex Nylander
  9. Montreal Canadiens – Logan Brown
  10. Colorado Avalanche – Olli Juolevi
  11. New Jersey Devils – Tyson Jost
  12. Ottawa Senators – Max Jones
  13. Carolina Hurricanes – Michael McLeod
  14. Boston Bruins – Clayton Keller

 

Analysis:

The whole Matthews vs Laine debate is just media hype in my opinion. It’s not really close, and Laine’s hype comes from a handful of games. Every year there’s always a scenario pitting the  established guy versus this hotshot underdog! Who’s going to be picked first?! At the end of the day, it brings in views. I’m not saying that Laine will be a ECHL player for his entire career, but at this point Matthews is a clear #1 selection for me. All of that is my opinion and there’s a pretty good chance I’m wrong.

Look for the Edmonton Oilers to trade down. Possibly with the Montreal Canadiens. The best players available are all forwards (Tkachuk, Nylander, Dubois), and the best defenseman are all available lower down (Chychrun, Sergachev, Juolevi). The Oilers are full of young wingers, and the Habs would love to get their hands on Pierre Luc Dubois. If a trade doesn’t happen, the trade talks for players such as Eberle, Hall, and Yakupov to heat up. But for simplicity’s sake, we’re assuming no trades happen.

We also know that the Canucks are planning to draft a forward so that removes a few defenseman, off our list. For us it’s a coin flip between Dubois and Tkachuk but Dubios’ offensive talent gives him a little edge over Tkachuk.

The Sabres could use a little more talent on the wings, so they take the best wing available left in Alex Nylander.

The Montreal Canadiens need a bigger center and choose the 6’6 Logan Brown. His game is a bit more polished and could possibly slot in at the 3C position next year. Well this is as long as Michel Therrien doesn’t play him on the wing à la Galchenyuk.

 

Agree? Disagree? Let us know! Comment below or “like” us on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/NotYourAverageHockeyBlog/ or by tweeting us at @hkyblogger!

NHL Making Itself Truly A National League

With the KHL’s growth into China, it is giving itself a leg up on the NHL in growth. While the NHL has remained within Canada and the USA, the KHL has been trying to grow at a rapid pace all over Eastern Europe and Asia. I am not arguing that the NHL should try to capitalize the Mexican and Caribbean market, cause frankly, the only news you hear about Caribbean hockey is this. What I am arguing though, is that the KHL has positioned itself in growth markets and the NHL hasn’t responded. I know that the KHL isn’t in the greatest position financially, but turbulence was expected.

China is trying to develop it’s presence in hockey in preparation for the 2022 Olympic Games. The Government is placing a lot of resources on development of sports that haven’t been well developed in China. In order to do so, the Chinese government has been working with the KHL to get a team located in China. Mission complete, the HC Red Star Kunlun will be joining the KHL for the 2016-2017 KHL season. There are further opportunities for growth in Asia with markets such as South Korea, Mongolia, and even INDIA available.

Meanwhile, the NHL is unable to continue to compete with the growth of the KHL and is losing out on possible revenue streams. A valid argument includes the fact that the NHL is an established league that doesn’t necessarily have to grow while the KHL is still a league that technically is still in it’s infancy and it’s owners still treat the league as the “Wild West“. However, the NHL is still growing with expansion speculation in Las Vegas, Quebec City, and Kansas City. Yet, the growth is not the growth that the NHL needs. The NHL markets itself as the greatest league in the world, yet it is unable to grow past two countries. It has attempted to play games in Europe a few times, and results have been well, but there isn’t the appetite for the sport isn’t there. Hockey remains a niche sport, and their games were in areas where hockey is already being played full season (Germany, Finland, Sweden).

Critics will argue that the NHL expanding to unserved markets will lead to a NFL Europe like disaster. However, there were many opportunities to grow the NHL brand without having capital investment like NFL Europe. Training camps, development camps, and community outreach programs allow for NHL organizations to develop hockey in developing countries, or find unknown prospects. However, their lack of development has left the NHL in a stagnant position. Without continued growth, maturity of the product peaks, and eventually, the decline begins.

Not Your Average Hockey Blog Mock Draft!

As one of our first posts in our reboot, we would like to revive a yearly tradition and present to you our 2016 NHL Mock Draft 1.0. How is this mock draft different from last year? Our mock draft has been relatively accurate in the years. Eight out of thirty (27%), of projected draft picks were drafted within two picks of the projected slots in 2013, eleven out of thirty (37%) in 2014 ,and ten out of thirty (30%) in 2015.

As part of our increased coverage and increased writers, we are able to simultaneously give eight, that’s right eight mock drafts all at once!

Each individual mock draft has been submitted by their writers themselves, and we’re excited to see if we have any changes during the year!

Some notes from our writers:

Ok, so. Say you really want a top flight Defenceman. And say your team is underperforming under a new head coach – badly. What do you do? If you said trade your #1 Centerman and pray for 1st overall, you may just be qualified to GM the Columbus Blue Jackets. All kidding aside, Columbus needs a top centre after acquiring Seth Jones, and who better to fill that role than potential Franchise player Auston Matthews? From there things get a bit hectic. The Leafs want Alex Nylander, but it’d be unjustifiable to draft him at #2, and they aren’t stupid enough to trade away the 2nd overall pick (Shut up). So instead they’ll take a player with familiarity with ANOTHER of their top flight prospects, Matthew Tkachuk, who plays with Mitch Marner in London. Buffalo needs Defence to go with their shiny new Eichel, so they’ll go with the best guy in the draft at that position in Jakob Chychrun. In a surprise move, Edmonton finally realize they have enough forwards and go with Olli Juolevi. Calgary and Winnipeg get amazing players in Laine and Puljujarvi almost by default based on the need of teams ahead of them, and Anaheim has enough size that they can justify drafting high skill baby Ny (and we don’t have to play him much, YAY). I don’t think Carolina will keep elder Staal so it’s time they start building around new young centre Mcleod. Nashville gets a new Jones so fans who bought Seth’s Jersey only have to change the number on the back and hey, kid’s a whiz offensively in his first OHL season so that’s a plus. And last but not least the Flyers continue to fill the Void that is their defence with young Mikhail Sergachev, and may actually get somewhere with him. – Jordan Doran

I chose Charles McAvory for the Sharks because, after the first half of this season, the entire club knows that the team is in desperate need of more skilled d-men. They need a solid stay-at-home defenseman. McAvory could end up being that guy. – Aidan Carlsen explaining his rationale on the Sharks pick.

I had Jacob Chychrun dropping to 4 instead of at 3 to the Sabres because the Sabres currently have a top offensive defenseman in development with Rasmus Ristolainen and a strong top 4 defenseman in development with Jake McCabe. The Sabres also have few strong young strong centers in Ryan O’Reilly, Zemgus Girgensons, Jack Eichel, and Sam Reinhart. What they don’t have besides Marcus Foligno is a bit power forward. This is where Patrik Laine comes in. Laine is a hulking forward who uses his size well. His big size and his willingness to use it will be a big factor on the Sabres picking Laine. The Oilers on the other hand need a big mobile defenseman who can man the power play. Chychrun can man the power play and can pair along with Nurse to lead the Oilers into the future. Well this is unless the Oilers get their usual first overall pick… – Alson Lee

If you have any comment or questions, make sure to tweet us @hkyblogger or “like” us on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/NotYourAverageHockeyBlog/ Make sure to share with your friends and neighbours so we can keep the conversation going!

 

Is The NHL Ready For A Gay NHL Player?

Editor’s Note: Make sure to follow me on Twitter here @hkyblogger, “like” us on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/NotYourAverageHockeyBlog/ and to share this with your friends!

The NBA and NFL have something the NHL doesn’t. An openly gay player. Jason Collins was the first openly gay player in the four major sports, and Michael Sam was the first openly gay player to be drafted in to the four major sports. The NHL has not had an openly gay player yet. Statistically speaking, there will be at least one gay player in the NHL fraternity of 750 players.

We wanted to see how hockey players felt about this, so we set out to find how players felt about having a gay teammate. We gave them all anonymity and the opportunity to state their opinions about this topic. We were given almost universal positive opinions on this issue. “I would have zero problem with it whatsoever. I want a good team mate and a person that plays hard every night. Their sexual orientation has no bearing on that. I know in the hockey world it would be a new thing to have a openly gay player, but it would be handled with class and respect.” – unnamed player.

We did have negative opinions on this issue, not because they are homophobic or they didn’t agree with the lifestyle others chose. They were more worried about the media circus that would come along with the an announcement. They didn’t want to have the spotlight of the league on a non-hockey issue. However, many players told me something I believe is echoed widely in the league. They couldn’t care less. They judge teammates on how they play. They don’t care about their sexual orientation, but will they put the extra effort on the ice? Will they get the greasy goals? “It really wouldn’t bother me to have a gay teammate. If they can help us win hockey games and are a generally good person I’d welcome them with open arms. I can’t speak for any of my teammates but I can’t imagine they would feel much differently. Sexual orientation shouldn’t define someone. Their personality and willingness to contribute to the team should.” – Different Unnamed Player.

If there is a gay player in the NHL out there (and according to Patrick Burke, there is.), I leave you with this message, your peers do not really care about your sexual orientation. Just train hard, and play even harder. Be a good teammate, and be a good role model. There’s a lot of kids looking up to you.

Interview with Borna Rendulić!

Retrieved from: https://twitter.com/bornarendulic. Photo used with permission.

We recently caught up with Colorado Avalanche forward Borna Rendulić! For the readers that aren’t familiar with him, he’s the first Croatian born NHL player ever (Joel Prpic played in the NHL and the Croatian national team, but was born in Canada.). He’s played all over Europe before crossing the pond to join the Avalanche organization. Rendulić was able to play 26 games in the AHL and 11 games in the NHL before suffering an injury. Even though that’s a tough way to end your season, he’s been working hard in the gym to be better than ever. Make sure to follow him on Twitter @bornarendulic. Make sure to follow us on Twitter @hkyblogger and “like” us on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/NotYourAverageHockeyBlog. So without further to do, here’s our chat with Borna Rendulić!

As per usual, we are in bold.

Croatia isn’t the biggest hockey market in the world, generally known more for soccer. How did you end up playing hockey with most of the country crazy about soccer?
Although I was and still crazy about soccer, I started with hockey almost by coincidence. When I was a 6-year old, I went with my preschool group to skating a course and one of the Medvescak coaches saw me skating. He liked my style and called me to join a hockey team. I said yes and the rest is history haha, I mean, that’s how I started with hockey, although I trained in soccer, basketball and handball as well in my childhood.

How often do you get noticed in the streets of Zagreb?
I don’t get noticed in the streets of Zagreb very often. But it happens from time to time. I only get noticed very often in Zagreb when I come for a hockey game.

What is it like to be the first player born and raised in Croatia to play in the NHL? Do you feel that there is a certain amount of pressure knowing that you represent Croatia whenever you step on the ice?
Well it’s a really big thing, definitely a dream come true and absolutely a huge accomplishment for me. Of course, there’s a lot of pressure that comes with it. You know the proverb from Spiderman, “With great power comes the great responsibility” haha. So yeah, the pressure is always here, but I’m trying to give my best to represent Croatia the best as I can.

What was your first game in the NHL like? Take us through it, the butterflies and the excitement.
My first NHL game was pure excitement and enjoyment. However, it’s impossible to describe all the feelings and emotions with words. There is a big mess in your head, you are fascinated by the crowd and everything, but you are still 100% concentrated on the game and every shift you take. You want to give your best while you are in awe, so yeah, it’s really hard to explain everything that’s happening out there. I hope I managed to give you at least a bit of the atmosphere.

Where is the puck from your first ever goal? Is it something you show off to your friends, or is it something you put away as a keepsake?
The puck from my first goal is in my home. It has a special place in my room with all the other medals and awards I won during my career. That is one of the things that I put away as a keepsake more than I show it off. I don’t like to brag so these types of things are something I keep for myself.

What’s the best part of your game?
I believe the best part of my game is my shot, especially my slapshot. Also I’m a winger with a big frame, and I am always being told that I posses a promising combination of size and scoring ability. I think I’m an intelligent player, good in corners, who likes to play offensive, but smart. I am tactically very good and I have a finisher’s instinct both in strength and skill to power my way to the net. I have a good technique and tendency for finesse and attractive game.

What’s something you need to work on?
On the other hand, I often look passive off the puck and I could up my intensity and sharpness. Furthermore, I need to fine-tune all aspects of my play. I have to place special focus on skating and adding grit, in addition to improving my defense and realization skills. That are some things I definitely need to work on.

So the next part is more of a rapid fire section, it’s a get to know you. You ready?
You’ve played hockey all over Europe and now in North America, how many languages can you speak fluently?

I speak Croatian natively, Finnish and English fluently. I think my English is the best of all three languages I speak, and my friends often tease me that I speak Finnish and English better than Croatian haha. I also understand Serbian, Bosnian and Montenegrin because these languages are very similar to Croatian.

Who did you idolize growing up?
When I was growing up I idolized Wayne Gretzky, but I also liked Mario Lemieux and Joe Sakic. They are the best of all time but at the same time, they were one of the few players I had heard of since we couldn’t have watched any hockey in Croatia. However, I later started to like Ovechkin when he came up and got to the NHL. I idolized him during the most of my career so I can say he was and is my idol.

There’s a lot of pranksters in hockey, who’s the biggest prankster in the locker room and what’s the best story you have?

Well all the guys in the locker room are cool and funny. We have a lot of pranksters, and when I first came to Colorado I instantly liked Berra, Briere and Hejda. But I don’t want to single out anybody, I love them all, they are all kings! I have a lot of stories haha, don’t know if I could say some to you and what story would be best for you haha.

Who’s the roomie on the road?
My roomie on the road is Dennis Everberg and we get along quite well.

What’s fun to do in Zagreb?
There’s a lot of fun things to do in Zagreb, although not as much as the US. But Zagreb has a lot of sights, wonderful parks and promenades. The clubbing is ok and everyone can find something for themselves. It’s not such big city, but it’s beautiful and is definitely one of the best places to visit when in Croatia, together with Dubrovnik. Zagreb has lots of restaurants, bars, wine bars and tourist attraction that can leave anyone breathless.

Final questions:
Advice for aspiring hockey players?

I think the best advice for aspiring hockey players is just to believe in themselves and to work and train their asses off. That’s the best combination for success.

Who should we interview next?
If you want some interesting hockey stories from Croatia, you should interview Ivan Sijan.

This is a terrible pun, but I just have to ask this, how often do people ask if you’re “Borna” ready and on a scale of 1 to 10 how annoying is it?
People ask me many things and thus they ask how ready I am. But it’s not a problem to me to answer any questions, so I don’t find that question annoying at all. So the answer is 0.

Thank you for your time.