While the New Jersey Devils begin their 2007-2008 season at Tampa Bay on October 4, the NHL season officially starts tomorrow. If you're not aware, the Anaheim Ducks will play the Los Angeles Kings in a "home and home" at the O2 Arena in London, England this weekend. James Mirtle has an in-depth post with much ado about the NHL starting their season in London.
The fact that they sold out both games with little marketing or promotion should silence some of the critics of the decision to start the season in England. I think it's always a good idea to spread the word of your sport. Let's be honest, the NHL has the best hockey in the world. The best teams, the best players, and the best styles of play. Why keep such a great thing to yourself? Efforts to expand the profile of the sport and the league is encouraging should those efforts yield interest. With two sold out games on very little marketing, the interest is there even if the bmibaby Elite Ice Hockey League
isn't ridiculously popular in the British Isles. Greg Wyshynski has a more critical take about the British season opener in a mini-series on the NHL Fanhouse called Puckingham Palace
. The first link is part one, which is an overview of a number of issues surrounding the game and part two is an interesting interview with a British Devils fan, Ben Hewitt. Good call in supporting the right team, Ben.
If you need some reasons to appreciate the upcoming NHL season, Shawn P. Roarke at NHL.com has compiled a list of 82 reasons.
He doesn't just mention Brent Sutter, but also Martin Brodeur remaining to be the best goalie in the league, the hard working ethic of Sergei Brylin (!!!), the Devils-Rangers rivalry, and the opening of the Prudential Center. Lots of respect for Devils here. Do you need more than 82 reasons or need more detailed reasons? If so, Pookie and Schnookie at Interchangeable Parts
are getting close to finishing their series of posts: the 118 reasons why they love hockey.
Season previews? NHL.com has one for every team in the league here.
Need a non-league opinion? If you're willing to be patient and scroll through posts through the last few weeks, the NHL Fanhouse
has you covered with far more detailed and more critical season previews. I didn't notice a common season preview tag, so if there is one, use that. If not, well, let's just say you won't be disappointed should you make the effort to seek these previews out.
One player who won't be enjoying hockey anytime soon will be Flyers goon Steve Downie. Oh, sure, he apologized for his cheap shot to Dean McAmmond's head
(link to Golbez at the Fanhouse who has an in depth analysis of Downie's lovely hockey career so far) but apologies don't erase what happened. The NHL disciplinary committee grew a spine for this situation and handed Downie a well deserved 20 game suspension. I agree with Mirtle's reaction
and Eric Duhatschek's reaction
to the suspension. It is the right decision. but it should be the start of a crackdown over something that needs to be eliminated from the game. The league should have handed down more - in both quantity and severity - suspensions for cheap shots and intents to injure in the past, hopefully this will be the sign of things to come. Fortunately, they can start doing that now. However, given the seemingly nonsensical nature of the NHL when it comes to suspensions, I won't believe it happening until I see it happening. For what it's worth, I don't care for critics who claim it'll end "old time hockey," I want that kind of hockey to remain
in the past. For fewer concussions and less dirty play, I definitely wouldn't mind some stricter calls on dangerous plays.
That all said, there's not much else to say before the NHL season. In less than a day as of this writing, it will already have begun.
Labels: 2008 Season, Hockey - General, Hockey Issues