Sports in general is supposed to teach people—children especially growing up—about the idea of fair play. And we are assured, as children, that if we play a nice clean game, no matter what, the adults in charge who are acting as referee's shall make sure if someone fouls us up, the person fouling us up will pay the price through a penalty of some sort. It was an idealistic view that the referees, or "zebras" as some of us call them, would make the playing area a safe place to be. Because after all, sport is supposed to be about fun, and not about maiming a fellow human being.
Five years ago, I had what could only be called an epic experience working on the CBC made for television movie Mr. Hockey, which looked at the year Gordie Howe decided to come out of retirement and play alongside his two eldest sons Marty and Mark in 1973. At the time, he was 44 years old, and it was known as one of the biggest comebacks in professional hockey.
During the third round of the NHL playoffs, after game two, a number of Jets fans were feeling rather glum about the loss. I had been working with Winnipeg Harvest, dressed up as the Tiger Lily Fairy, "Whiteout Edition," the two hours previous to the game and stuck around for the street party, where I sat on one of the concrete benches in the family section behind the Millenium Library in downtown Winnipeg. I watched the game on a huge big screen which was showing the CBC broadcast of the Jets/Knights game, alongside a lot of families who appreciated a family friendly cosplayer spending their time with them. Truth be told, I hate drunks, and knew none were allowed in this area. But the people there recognized me from a brief interview I did after the viewing party held in Bell MTS Place, when the Jets won over the Predators in game seven in the second round.
WRITER'S NOTE: I submitted this for another paper, but as there wasn't room for it, it was not used. As people have been asking me what I did write up for this particular NHL hockey game, I felt I might as well publish it here, and get some feedback. Apologies to any Jets' fans for the lateness of this getting made public for reading. And yes I always do my nails blue, hence why I chose the graphic I did to accompany this story.
These are the two teams the league (or most of it, at least) did not think were going to make it to the finals this season when the playoffs started. A lot happened in ways that helped Vegas make it and helped Washington. In many ways teams that were in the playoffs, schedules and even fans were just some of the things that aided the teams in getting this far.
Something strange has been happening in the beautiful world of hockey. And no, I don’t mean the Capitals actually winning in the first round of the playoffs. I mean the expansion team who has a horrible name (but this is a story for later), the Vegas Golden Knights, and their amazing potential to win a Stanley cup. This has never been done by a first year franchise, might I remind you. Now, by now they only have a 3-1 series lead, but in the realm of sports that's nothing, and it can easily be busted and lost.
Whenever you're taken first in the NHL draft, a lot of expectations are attached to you. First overall picks are generally tasked with saving a franchise and becoming the centerpiece of a rebuilding movement that lasts years. Usually, who the first overall pick will be is decided months before the actual draft. That is not always the case though, with many asking who should the New Jersey Devils take in 2017.
It is almost impossible to win the Stanley Cup without an all-star goaltender, especially in today's NHL. Regardless of how many chances you create or goals you score, it is all for naught if you can't keep the puck out of your net. Goaltenders are the last line of defense. They can keep you in games, steal an important series, or even lead you all the way to the promised land of winning a Stanley Cup. The best NHL goalies of all-time have accomplished all three of those feats and they did it without breaking a sweat.
We are blessed as hockey fans to have so much skill in the NHL today. Every team has a star and most have a few, leading to some of the most exciting and electric hockey in NHL history. In the past, there was not as much skill and it definitely was not spread out evenly. Dynasties were the name of the game for the majority of hockey history, and a lot of NHL defensemen were at the forefront of them. So let's take a look back at some of the true superstar defenders that changed the game, and some that are more recent that are doing the same.
We all know the dynamos that went early in the first round in NHL entry drafts throughout history. Bonafide superstars that changed the game forever with names that include Mario Lemieux, Mike Modano, Steve Yzerman, Paul Coffey, Jaromir Jagr, Ray Bourque, Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, etc. These players were pegged to be game-changing talents and lived up to the bill and then some.
When fans of hockey hear about a seismic NHL trade, where superstars and future superstars are dealt, they hope their team, if involved, came out on top. At the very least, they hope their team wasn't fleeced by another. Unfortunately for some, the latter happens all the time in the NHL.