ONE-LINERS

 

Welcome to the 2006-2007 NHL regular season!

With just about everybody having their opinion on what team will finish where and why, I feel it totally unnecessary to continue to over analyze a season which is barely a week old.

It’s been said just as much can be accomplished with one sentence as can be with a paragraph, and I’m going to prove it here with 30 of the most relevant hockey one-liners you’re bound to hear all year.

We’re just barely a week into the new season, so bring on the games, and bring on the one-liners!

THE BOTTOM LINES

Anaheim Ducks – The mighty may have fallen from the team name, but the Ducks are icing their mightiest lineup ever.

Atlanta Thrashers – This should be the year the feisty birds learn to fly.

Boston Bruins – At first glance it seems as if Andre the Giant has converted from wrestling to hockey, but in actual fact it’s only Zdeno Chara.

Buffalo Sabres – With their new uniforms they may look like a cross between the Nashville Predators, Buffalo Bills and St. Louis Rams, but the Sabres have picked up where they left off last season.

Calgary Flames – Miikka Kiprusoff will make a legitimate run for his second straight Vezina Trophy, but besides him, I can’t for the life of me figure out what all the fuss is about.

Carolina Hurricanes – An 0-4 start for the defending Stanley Cup Champions (as of this writing) is simply unacceptable.

Chicago Blackhawks – Rumor has it they’re still playing hockey in the windy city, and Martin Havlat wants to keep it that way.

Colorado Avalanche – No Pierre Lacroix + No Rob Blake + No Alex Tanguay = No Playoffs, or so I’d like to believe.

Columbus Blue Jackets – Please see Atlanta Thrashers and replace birds with flies.

Dallas Stars –Brendan Morrow has been handed the captain’s torch as Mike Modano continues playing for the only NHL team he has ever known.

Detroit Red Wings – Motown sees it fit to give Dominik Hasek a final curtain call.

Edmonton Oilers – They won’t miss Chris Pronger as much as everyone seems to think.

Florida Panthers – Todd Bertuzzi can run but he can’t hide in South Florida.

Los Angeles Kings – Marc Crawford and Dan Cloutier attempt to get the city of angels back in the playoffs, that is, of course if Sean Avery can keep his mouth shut long enough.

Minnesota Wild – Management hopes the addition of Pavol Demitra will spark Marian Gaborik, but conventional wisdom will tell you Jacques Lemaire won’t allow it.

Montreal Canadiens – Sometimes the best moves you can make are the moves you don’t make.

Nashville Predators – It doesn’t matter how many goals you can score if the other team can score more.

New Jersey Devils – Lou Lamoriello, one of the masterminds of the new CBA continues his tenure as master of the swamp.

New York Islanders – The first and (hopefully) last team to ever sign a player to a 15 year contract.

New York Rangers – “They say the neon lights are bright, on Broadway…”

Ottawa Senators – John Muckler’s days as general manager in Canada’s capital are numbered, and he knows it.

Philadelphia Flyers – They haven’t lived up to their name in a very long time, and this year it’s the same old story in the city of brotherly love - plenty of talent, no goalie.

Phoenix Coyotes – With his rookie coaching campaign behind him, Wayne Gretzky looks forward to bigger and better things from the desert dogs.

Pittsburgh Penguins – With a potential new owner and a plethora of exciting draft picks, the renovations of the house Mario built are nearing completion.

San Jose Sharks A full 82 game schedule with Joe Thornton and Jonathan Cheechoo on the roster should translate into quite a few (more) trophies, and perhaps the ultimate prize.

St. Louis Blues – John Davidson may have left the broadcast booth, but if former Team U.S.A. teammates Bill Guerin and Doug Weight can’t get it done he may be back there sooner than he hopes.

Tampa Bay Lightning – Blowing 75% of their salary cap money on their top line has given Bolts management no choice but to go with substandard goaltending.

Toronto Maple Leafs – With a new coach, a new goaltender, and a new attitude, there is hope once again in the Big Smoke.

Vancouver Canucks – Roberto Luongo adds some stability in net to an otherwise mediocre squad, led by the “Ikea Line” – Markus Naslund & the Sedin twins.

Washington Capitals – Calder trophy winner Alexander Ovechkin is the real deal as he enters his sophomore campaign.

ALONG THE BOARDS

Tell me something – and I want an honest answer, not a political “right wing” approach – how is it Tie Domi can grace the airwaves on TSN when no team wants him and neither does his wife, yet Belinda Stronach thinks he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread?  Seriously, I have to admit, after looking way out of place on opening night,Tie is starting to grow on me.  However, I think Domi would be much better suited as a color commentator, why not swap him with Pierre McGuire, who I’ve thought for years would be a better fit for their hockey panel?

On a sort of related note, I know high definition television is the place to be nowadays (and I know I work for a cable company but that’s not my point).  I really wish broadcasters would stop employing the widescreen angle camera shots on their regular broadcasts, especially in shootout situations – I wouldn’t mind actually seeing the puck go in the net once in a while without having to watch the replay.

Welcome to the Blackberry Centre?  Could we be hearing this on hockey broadcasts in the future?  If the chairman and co-CEO of Research In Motion (RIM) has his way, then we may see an NHL team land in Hamilton yet.  Jim Balsillie, has all of a sudden emerged as the new owner in principle of the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Of course, that is, if the Penguins aren't able to secure their own destiny in Pittsburgh.  The Mellon Arena lease is up in June of next year, and team officials have teamed up with Isle of Capri Gaming, who have reportedly donated somewhere in the neighborhood $300 million towards building a new arena in Pittsburgh.   The deal should certainly put the hockey club on solid financial ground, as RIM’s reported revenue last quarter alone was reported at $613.1 million (and as someone who has sold a Blackberry device or two, those figures are not surprising to me in the least – it seems everybody wants one).  But, just hold the phone for a second (pun intended).  In order to make another major sports franchise work north of the border, particularly in a market where one of either the Toronto Maple Leafs, Buffalo Sabres/Bills or Hamilton Tigercats rule, I think it goes without saying any prospective owner will need a substantial fan base.  Sure, the Penguins are rebuilding themselves into an exciting team, but here’s my concern – the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs play at Copps Colliseum and on many nights can’t even fill up half the arena.  How does anybody think they’ll be able to sell enough tickets to be able to fill up a building which would need to provide double or triple the seating capacity for the NHL to even consider approving such a deal?  The issue isn’t having an owner with deep pockets, it’s selling the game to a city who may not even show up for the games.  Not only that, getting the team to leave Pittsburgh will be a chore in itself.  Does anybody believe for one second Gary Bettman will even allow a team to set up shop in Canada after having to seeing two of them move south during his tenure?  I guess the fact this story seems to resurface every couple of months would suggest the powers that be are certainly open to discussion, if nothing else.  Stay tuned next month for rumors of Wayne Gretzky moving the Phoenix Coyotes back to Winnipeg.  Enough already!

After watching more than a few games already, I learned the shootout has been adjusted to allow the home team to decide who shoots first.  While a subtle adjustment, is it too much to ask for five shooters per side instead of three?  On a side note, I wish I would have known about this before I reviewed the EA Sports NHL 07 game because then I would have been more critical as to why there wasn’t a toggle option in the game.

It wouldn’t be officially hockey season without a goaltender controversy in Montreal.  Cristobal Huet was expected to be the starter after a stellar season in net which essentially helped the Habs clinch a playoff spot.  Nowadays, the man Jose Theodore was traded for, David Aebischer, has been getting the bulk of the work after Huet lost the first game of the season in a shootout.  Aebischer has now won two straight games, which already doubles his win production from one year ago.  Far be it from me to offer criticism, but I honestly can’t imagine why this is even an issue.  Surely the fans and media must know it’s best to play a hot goaltender, and clearly new bench boss Guy Carbonneau hasn’t forgotten this tactic from his playing days.  Don’t plan the parade just yet, there’s still a full season left to play.

So Peter Forsberg reportedly doesn’t like shooting in the shootout, claiming he doesn’t have a good enough stick?  Maybe it’s time to go back to wood instead of slate or graphite or whatever it is they’re made of nowadays.  Can you just imagine if baseball started making bats out of Plexiglas?  It’s kind of the same premise, isn’t it?

I know it’s early, but if I know one thing from last season, it’s to expect the unexpected.  The playing field has never been more level, and while I don’t expect much to change for the usual bottom feeders, I do expect every team to be competitive and have a chance to win.  I expect to see a few more of the newer expansion teams make it to the dance, namely Atlanta and Columbus, who both should have their best seasons yet, on paper.  It wouldn’t surprise me to see Carolina miss, if the first week is any indication.  But, as I always say, anything can happen, and usually does.

Enjoy the season everybody, and keep it locked right here!

 

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