The global economy influences the NHL. The current economic problems in the world have led to and made worse economic problems in the NHL. There is speculation that the 30 team NHL may not survive the current economic slowdown. The team that has jumped to the forefront as the most economically troubled (replacing the Nashville Predators who are yet to solve their financial issues) is the Phoenix Coyotes.
The primary owner of the Phoenix Coyotes is Jerry Moyes. Moyes has made his money through the trucking company Swift Transportation. In 2006, Moyes decided to take the company private (buy out all the stock not owned by his family). In doing this he took on $2.4 billion in debt. The sharp rise in fuel prices last year coupled with the global economic slowdown have made this a questionable decision. Moyes is no longer willing to (or possibly able to) afford the Phoenix Coyotes.
As the season progresses, I like to track the players who I feel are front-runners for the NHL’s awards. I had been picking Craig Anderson of the Florida Panthers as the Vezina leader. This pick was a little unsatisfactory because Anderson has only 21 games played (and only 18 decisions). This is less play that Tomas Vokoun, his Florida teammate with whom he has been sharing the Panther goaltending position. This makes him the nominal number two goalie in Florida and it is odd to call a number two goalie the NHL’s best.
The Vezina race is relatively wide open because none of the goalies who have the most games played are asserting themselves as front-runners. It is hard to call the current games played leaders (Miikka Kiprusoff of Calgary, Marty Turco of Dallas, Henrik Lundqvist of the NY Rangers, Joey MacDonald of the NY Islanders or Vesa Toskala of Toronto) serious Vezina candidates. None of them have been consistently outstanding goalies.
I would have liked to make a prediction on which players would make the Young Stars roster, but I was unable to guess how many players would make up the roster this year. In the six years that the game has been played it has been subject to many format changes. Two years ago, the Young Stars Game had 12 man rosters and was East Conference vs. West Conference. Last year, they used eight man rosters with no Young Star goalies (the All Star Game goalies were used) and played East vs. West Conference. This year it has 10 man rosters, with Young Star goalies again and is played rookies against sophomore (2nd year) players.
It is impossible to build up a tradition behind the game when it undergoes a format change annually. Anything that changes format as frequently as the Young Stars Game appears to be on the verge of cancellation. The NHL would be advised to come up with a permanent format for the game and quit making changes.
Before the NHL announced who would participate in the All Star Game, I published my All Star rosters. Here are the NHL’s actual All Star rosters. There are several players I selected that the NHL did not and vice versa. It seems the main reason for discrepancies is that the NHL selected the most marketable player, whereas I picked the played who has been playing the best so far this season. The NHL would be more likely to make the representative for a team be their third or fourth best player this year if he is a recognizable name player and I would have been willing to pick a more unknown player who is having a better season, but in the process snub the bigger name player.
There were five players on the Eastern team and eight players on the Western team that we disagreed about. Here are those selections, with the explanation of why I picked the player that I did. I have paired off these players (i.e. I picked player X but the NHL picked player Y). In most cases the pairing is obvious (the representative for a given team), but in a couple cases it is not quite so clear.
Over the last two days, the AHL has named their All Star Game rosters. The game will be played January 26th in Worchester, Massachusetts. It pits the AHL all stars from Canada (Team Canada) against those from the rest of the world (Planet USA). All Star Teams have 24 players each with 13 forwards, 8 defencemen and 3 goalies on each. It is an interesting game because it is a chance to see many future NHL players in one place.
Here are the rosters:
The West Conference All Star Team is announced today (Wednesday) and the East Conference team tomorrow (Thursday). I want to post my teams in advance of the announcements.
First the (assumed) ground rules for the teams. The starters are given by fan balloting. The rosters are 21 men in size (as the last few All Star Games have been) with 12 forwards, 6 defencemen and 3 goalies. Each team must be represented on the rosters - last year this was true of the initial rosters but when injury replacements were made this restriction was loosened.
The bronze/4th game pitted Russia against Slovakia and the gold/silver game pitted Sweden against Canada.
As the season progresses I like to keep track of the players who I think should win the major awards. I have been picking Derick Brassard of the Columbus Blue Jackets as the leader for the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year. This situation has clearly changed as Brassard has had to undergo surgery on his right shoulder. He is expected to miss the remainder of the season. This removes him from serious contention for the Calder Trophy, although he still ranks second in the rookie point scoring race (behind Kris Versteeg of Chicago and tied with Patrik Berglund of St Louis). Thus it is time to pick a new top rookie this season.
My choice is a Brassard teammate in Columbus. I pick goaltender Steve Mason.
The semi-finals pitted Sweden against Slovakia and Canada against Russia.
The World Junior Hockey Championships quarter-finals went last night. A summary of the preliminary round is here.
The quarter-finals were USA matched up against Slovakia and Russia against the Czech Republic.
About The Puck Stops Here
Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.
Why am I blogging? I want to.
Why are you reading it? ???