Returning from Holidays

5 Jan

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I may have spent the last couple weeks entertaining family and eating 3X my required Caloric intake every day, but Ive also been keeping my eye on the NHL labour talks and doing my best to catch as much WJC hockey as possible. Naturally, outside of my diet, I have been disappointed as of late.

TEAM CANADA

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Before I get too down on the Canadian Squad I would like to point out that RNH was spectacular as the Team’s Captain. The phrase that best describes Nugent-Hopkins is “The Guy who stirred the Drink.” The Magnificent Bastard Stu MacGregor gave him that title when he was describing the Nuge as a 17 year old to Robin Brownlee of Oilersnation.com. The fact is that he has stirred the drink on every team he’s been a part of whether it be Junior, Minor Pro, or NHL. The kid is alright and he now holds the Team Canada record for points by a Captain in a single Tournament to go with the title of “Best Forward” for the WJC. His team didnt win, but it was for a lack of effort or performance by the Captain.

After the Nuge I think things go swiftly downhill for Canada. Goaltending has been a question mark for years and this year has been no different. Malcolm Subban has been the lowest performing goalie for the club from the selection camp onwards despite the total confidence of the coach. No matter how poor he played the decision makers refused to play better options. Several members of the MSM have claimed that there has been an OHL bias when it comes to goLies at the tournament for years. I have no idea if this is true, but Hockey Canada has to make a change to the way it selects its teams. For me, I’d start with the Head Scout Kevin Ruined The Oilers Prendergast. How he could have bankrupted the Oilers via the draft and then landed the top spot with Hockey Canada is beyond me.

The Scout cant be the only Scape Goat, however. The Coach appears to have been a poor choice. His matchups werent working, he was slow to make any adjustments, and quite honestly I had never heard of him before he took the job. Now I am no Juniour Hockey aficionado, but coaching Team Canada is no job for someone relatively new to the scene. This is especially true when Canada is trying to re-establish itself at the top of the tournament standings.

Canada is still one of Hockey’s premiere Nations, but not being able to Medal when they had access to arguably every player they wanted to bring is an embarrassment.

NHL LABOUR STRUGGLES

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This has had its ups and downs over the Christmas break, but at the end of the Day they havent struck a deal yet so how can we be anything but disappointed?

Things became pretty dark just before Christmas but not long after the Holiday the NHL dropped a 300 page document on Donald Fehr’s lap. I think everybody cynically felt like the two sides just went Dark, but the NHL obviously took that time away from negotiation to set this process up to end. The NHL and the PA took a few days to go back and forth with each other, passing the January 2nd deadline for the PA to file its Disclaimer of Interest.

Needless to say, at that point, even the most pessimistic observers were beginning to feel like there was a light at the end of the tunnel.

Still many people feel like the deal will definitely be done soon, but the seeds of doubt are creeping back in. Several reports have surfaced noting that Bettman could kill the season as early as next week. Jonathan Willis is of the mind that Bettman cant be taken seriously anymore when it comes to threats. To me, this is getting close to the time that others have suggested is the point of no return for the NHL season. Jason Gregor has long held that January 11th would be the day to cancel the season, and sadly that day is less than a week away. I’m not willing to write off this “threat” just because Bettman has moved on many of his sticking points during this lockout.

The fact is the NHL season IS in jeopardy. The NHL has cancelled every Marquee game in its schedule except the Stanley Cup Playoffs and those are only played by 16 of the 30 teams, it’s going to be Mid January before anybody plays a game if the CBA is agreed upon today, and the NHL is already giving MORE than they want to in these negotiations.

It stopped making sense to keep this lockout going on the players’ side when 250 million in Make Whole and an 82 game schedule was lost weeks ago, for the owners the date where it stops making sense to have a season is swiftly approaching.

Hopefully somebody with the players’ best interests in mind actually stands up for them and speeds this process up.

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