Archive for March, 2013
Ron MacLean and Don Cherry’s Tour across Canada continued in Canada’s national capital: Ottawa. Topics discussed this week include Jon Cooper’s first win as the head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning, the importance of Craig Anderson for the Senators and James Reimer for the Maple Leafs, and reaction to the Jarome Iginla trade.
After the game, Grapes showed some love to the #1 star of the game, Nazem Kadri, who scored a hat trick against the Sens in a 4-0 Leafs win.
For the last 26 years, Illinois’ best high school hockey players take the ice at the Madhouse on Madison to determine who is the best team in the state of Illinois. Tonight, New Trier High School, the school that gave us Blue Jackets defenseman John Moore and San Jose Sharks forward Tommy Wingels, won their third State championship in the last five years. Now Illinois ain’t Michigan, Massachusetts, or Minnesota when it comes to high school hockey, but we do have a fair of NHLers coming from the Chicagoland area. Current Blackhawks analyst Eddie Olczyk graduated from Brother Rice. Three-time Norris Trophy winner Chris Chelios graduated from Mount Carmel. Cheli’s former teammate Brett Lebda graduated from Buffalo Grove. Senators goalie Craig Anderson graduated from Barrington. Oilers enforcer Mike Brown graduated from Glenbrook North. And Winnipeg Jets goalie Al Montoya graduated from Loyola Academy. In the last 20 years, New Trier has won half of those State championships (colloquially known as the Blackhawk Cup). Under the tutelage of head coach Bob Melton, New Trier won five straight State championships in his first five seasons as head coach. And while in the midst of New Trier’s current championship run, the Trevians win the first two USA Hockey High School National Championships, which were held at the Edge Ice Arena in the Chicago suburb of Bensenville, home rink for the USHL’s Chicago Steel. In the inaugural championships, New Trier beat St. Thomas Aquinas High School of Ft. Lauderdale (the same school that gave us Michael Irvin and Major Wright), 5-0. Then the following year, New Trier shut out Southlake Carroll High School of Southlake, Texas (a team better known for its football history), 3-0. The only team that I can recall having that much success in hockey at a high-school level is the Edina Hornets. Under the legendary Willard Ikola, Edina won eight Minnesota State championships from 1969-1988. After witnessing New Trier’s 11th State championship since reunifying the Northfield and Winnetka campuses in September 1981, I realized is that you really can’t appreciate a high school hockey powerhouse until you see it in person. I have been attending the Illinois State High School Hockey Championships for three out of the last four years, and I tell you that for these kids who skated on the same ice that their heroes skated on, this might be the closest they will have to make it to an NHL-type stage unless they work hard to be drafted to an NHL team. So who knows who might be the next NHL player to come out of the Windy City? All I know is if you ever hear the names of Kyle Melton or Brian Enriquez in the next few years, they were Trevians, and tonight, they rekindled a dynasty; affirming their power as the best high school team in the Land of Lincoln.
After 1 and 1/2 years of maintaining this blog, I have finally reached another milestone. This is PHC’s 100th post!
Anyway, Ron MacLean and Don Cherry’s Hockey Night 60th Season Tour continues in la belle ville: the city that is home to the 24-time Stanley Cup Champion Canadiens, Montréal. This is what happened this week on “Coach’s Corner”. Issues tackled this week were playing tough while wearing a visor, remembering Frank Selke Jr., and an ending from the Guelph Giants you’d want to watch again.
Thanks to the folks at SI.com, there’s a third photo gallery of the NHL’s ice crews taken during the last couple of weeks. If you haven’t seen my first ice crew blog of this season, click here. In that photo gallery, there were five pictures of the Chicago Blackhawks Ice Crew taken over the last 2 games at the United Center. There were three more pictures posted in a photo gallery posted April 8. 6 more photos were posted on another SI.com photo gallery April 24.
On this St. Patrick’s Day edition of Coach’s Corner, topics that were discussed include Kaspars Daugavins’ shootout attempt on Tuukka Rask, Sidney Crosby fighting, and the art of proper on-ice chirping.
Things are about to look drastically different in the NHL next season as the NHL Board of Governors approves realignment for the 2013-14 season. As seen on the infographic above, All teams that are in the Eastern Time Zone, which includes Detroit and Columbus, comprise the Eastern Conference. Also, the four divisions are unnamed. Most hockey-history buffs would want to call Division A the new Smythe Division, Division B the new Norris Division, Division C the new Adams Division, and Division D the new Patrick Division, but most likely, the division names would most likely be called the Pacific Division, Midwest Division, Central Division, and Atlantic Division. As for the new scheduling matrix, each team will face each other for at least one game in every NHL arena. A taste of what divisional play looks like next season is being played this season, with some teams playing five games against one divisional opponent and four games against another divisional opponent. Same thing goes for inter-conference play, where one team plays an opponent from the other division from the same conference three times during the season. In conclusion, the 82-game schedule will deliver equal competitive balance between divisional play, inter-conference play, and intra-conference play. As for the Stanley Cup playoffs, there’ll be a new format; which will feature something that hasn’t been seen in 20 years. The playoffs will be going back to a divisional-based format, with the top three from each division automatically qualifying for the playoffs. The fourth seed will be wild cards, with the top two teams with the highest point total from each conference, regardless of what division they’re playing, qualifying. In my opinion, The realignment and playoff restructuring is a good thing. It is a distinct throwback to the days of the Adams Division, Patrick Division, Norris Division, and Smythe Division. In those days, rivalries became established, and with the realignment, new rivalries could be born, or old rivalries could be rekindled. For example, the rivalry between the Kings and the Oilers or the Flames and the Canucks could be reignited, or the Blackhawks and the Wild could establish a rivalry in the same way that the Blackhawks and the North Stars had during the ’80s-early ’90s, or the Penguins and the Capitals. These are rivalries that were made for television, watercooler talk, and prolonged conversations on Facebook and Twitter. After all, wasn’t rivalries the foundation on which this sport was built upon?
This week’s “Coach’s Corner” features the topic of staged fighting, visor use, and most importantly, remembering Canadian country-folk legend Stompin’ Tom Connors, who died Wednesday of natural causes at the age of 77.