NO SEASON?  NO PROBLEM!

 

Barring an 11th hour miracle, in all probability there won’t be NHL hockey this season, but if a group of die hard hockey fans from Edmonton have their way, we’ll still crown a Stanley Cup Champion in 2005.

“Free Stanley” is an Edmonton-based movement who are attempting to restore the Stanley Cup Challenge.  On their website, www.freestanley.com, they have presented a 13 page legal opinion from Roderick C. Payne Jr., a partner in the law firm Hustwick Wetsch Moffat & McCrae.  The legal advice offered by Mr. Payne suggests the current Cup trustees Ian "Scotty" Morrison and Brian O'Niell have independent control of the trophy, not any league, the NHL included.

"If (the trustees) consider it and say that it is not in the best interests of hockey in this country to award the Stanley Cup and therefore it's not going to be awarded for the 2004-05 season, that might be enough," said Payne. "However, it would then be a matter for the public to have an outcry and say it's not acceptable”.

Roderick Payne along with Tom Thurston, an exhibitions director at Alberta’s provincial museum, Michael Payne (no relation to Roderick), a museum historian, and Mark Suits, a web designer, collectively believe if there’s no NHL hockey this season, then the cup should be awarded to the best team, period.  The website has received more than 100,000 hits, and counting.

Free Stanley's mission is to make sure there are Stanley Cup playoffs this hockey season. We love the Stanley Cup playoffs and we love the Cup. We believe it is the best trophy in all of sport, and it should not be denied to the best hockey team is playing this season. If there is no NHL season the Stanley Cup should then be awarded to the best hockey team in Canada, which was Lord Stanley's original intent for the Cup.”

Personally, I’m all for it, but will it be the same?  This is open for debate.  I think it can only work if we include the winners of the Memorial Cup (CHL), the Calder Cup (AHL), the Kelly Cup (ECHL) and the Allan Cup (Amateur Senior League).  As I know you’ll all have an opinion on this, help out the webmasters and cast your vote today.

EVERYBODY ELSE IS DOING IT, SO WHY CAN'T I?

Everywhere I look for hockey news, I find a hockey video game simulation, so I decided to put one of my own together.  Using EA Sports’ NHL 2004 with rosters up to date as much as possible (sorry EA, I just can’t play NHL 2005, and it isn’t from a lack of trying), I am simulating a short lockout shortened 29 game season, and the results have been pretty interesting so far.  I’ve taken control of six teams, one from each division: Ottawa, Edmonton, Tampa Bay, New York Rangers, Nashville and Phoenix.  Here are just a few notable events in an already exciting season.  I will continue to do this until either there’s NHL hockey for real, or until this simulated season ends, whichever comes first.

January 3 – Detroit 7  Tampa Bay 3 – Detroit’s Kirk Maltby had a four point night (2G, 2A) to spoil the Stanley Cup banner raising party for the Lightning.  Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier made it onto the score sheet late, but it was too little too late.

January 4 – Ottawa 5  Edmonton 0 – Dominick Hasek was perfect in his Senators debut, making 20 saves for the shutout.  Martin Havlat scored a pair while Jason Spezza and Marian Hossa both had a goal and an assist.  Ryan Smyth led the Oilers with 8 shots on goal.

January 7 – Washington 2  Nashville 1 – Shaking off the ill effects of Team Canada’s relentless hitting at the World Junior Championships, 1st round draft pick Alexander Ovechkin scored his first NHL goal which proved to be the game winner against the Predators, even though goaltender Tomas Vokoun made 32 saves in a very entertaining contest.

January 8 – Tampa Bay 2  Anaheim 0  - Nikolai Khabibulin made 40 saves for his first shutout of the season, and the Lightning showed why they are the defending Stanley Cup Champions.  Cory Sarich scored the winner and Martin St. Louis scored into an empty net in a much more solid Tampa effort.

January 9 – Brett Hull is proving to be the biggest free agent bust so far as Phoenix has yet to score a goal this season after three games with him in the lineup.  Maybe he’s still sore over the World Cup.

After opening weekend, the Los Angeles Kings have the best record in the NHL, as they are a perfect 4-0.  Led by the return of Adam Deadmarsh and Jason Allison, both with 5 points each, the Kings are already well on their way to a special season.

Check in next time for a report of the first overtime game of the season, and a look at how the other Stanley Cup finalist Calgary Flames are faring.

LOCKOUT UPDATES

Here’s a thought.  Perhaps the NHL should rename themselves to the North American Elite League and implement a system similar to the elite leagues overseas where they pit the bottom feeders against the top teams for the right to compete through a hockey season and playoffs.  Could you imagine Pittsburgh, Washington, Carolina and the New York Rangers competing against the top teams of Detroit, Colorado, Dallas, Toronto, Ottawa, Philadelphia for the right to even play?  Imagine if a team like Detroit or Toronto was disqualified for an entire season?  I think the talk radio stations would have to get their phone numbers unlisted.  It was just a thought.

The more I get to watch the American Hockey League experiment with larger blue lines and a limited goalie zone, the more I like it.  With a tag up offside rule, teams can use the extra room to set up a play, especially with the man advantage.  Let’s remove the red line too, because watching all the action from the World Junior Hockey tournament was simply outstanding.  Then again, let’s just get a product back on the ice.

There’s a lot of news about no news lately.  There’s been at least one meeting that we know of, but who says there aren’t any talks going on?  Just where is Gary Bettman and Bob Goodenow anyway?  We haven’t heard anything from them since they wasted our time with recycled proposals in December.  Maybe we’re too late to have a season this year, but what about the future of the league?  What about the draft?  It’s just too quiet for my liking, and the longer this goes on, the more I’m becoming less of a fan and more interested in leagues where the players aren’t playing for the money, they’re playing for pride, for a chance to play in the big leagues.

Am I the only one who fails to understand why a player will travel overseas and accept $6,000 a month to play, but won’t accept an average salary of $1.3 million per season to play half of their season close to home?  I tell you what, give me $5,000 a month to work 2 or 3 nights a week (tax free of course), and I’ll even learn how to skate on my own time.

Even with no NHL, the Leafs are still finding a way to make the news, the Baby Leafs that is.  The Edmonton Road Runners and St. John’s Maple Leafs combined for 271 penalty minutes in a brawl filled third period which resulted in one game suspensions to the Leafs’ Jason McDonald and Edmonton goalie Tyler Moss.  Road Runners’ defenseman Rocky Thompson, received five games for his role in the altercation.

On the eve of “The Apprentice 3”, perhaps we should bring in our friend Donald Trump to do the honors:

“Gary and Bob you’re fired!  Brian Burke, you’re hired!”  Think about it.  Aside from actually getting the impasse settled, it might be the best move the NHL ever makes.

And once again, you’re up to date.  We should soon find out what, if anything, will happen this season, and with any luck we may have something to cheer about.  In the meantime, get out and support your minor league teams, they deserve it.  Or, just do like me, get out and enjoy life while you still can!!!

 

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