Exactly 100 years ago, the first ever American-based hockey team won the Stanley Cup. This was before the days of the NHL proper, when the regular season champions in both the Pacific Coast Hockey League (PCHL) and the National Hockey Association (NHA) would square off in a contest for sports' most coveted prize. That fall, the NHL would be created, and by 1924, the PCHL was dissolved. But, that year—1917—saw an American team lift Lord Stanley's Cup for the first time. That team was the Seattle Metropolitans.
Early season trades involving big name players have that extra level of excitement attached to them. When a trade goes through at the deadline, we're sort of expecting it. We know it's coming. When a trade involving big names comes through in November, it catches us off guard, and carries with it a new wrinkle of expectation.
The first quarter of the NHL season is behind us, which means that teams and players are beginning to settle in and find their form. Players have set a tone for their play and teams have jostled into early position, hoping to set themselves up for playoff success. At the 20+ game mark, we are able to see the 2017-18 season taking shape, with a few big surprises and some questions left to be answered.
If we are being honest, the Arizona Coyotes are one of the most confusing and enigmatic stories in the NHL. A team that was relocated out of Winnipeg in favor of the desert in 1996 has experienced first place finishes and conference finals appearances right alongside 50-loss seasons and rumors of relocation. The 'yotes moved to Phoenix (or is it Glendale?) and ripped off four straight playoff appearances. Perhaps this justified moving a relatively successful hockey team to an otherwise untested area of the United States. The story since then has not been so bright. Since 2000, the Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes have made the playoffs just four times.
Well, it finally happened.
Last season, due to a torn meniscus in his right knee, Steven Stamkos played just 17 games. With the Lightning captain sidelined almost all year, Tampa Bay managed to miss the playoffs in 2016-17.