Monday, May 31, 2010

The Fourth One's A Charm

When it comes to NHL Draft talk, pretty much all you hear is Tyler Seguin this or Taylor Hall that, but there is another homegrown Canadian boy who is catching the interests of the NHL teams this season: Erik Gudbranson. The 18-year old defenceman from the Kingston Frontenacs is ranked fourth in the list of top prospects and is highly sought after by the likes of the Florida Panthers and the New York Islanders.
At 6 feet 3 inches, Gudbranson is often compared to Philadelphia Flyers defenceman Chris Pronger, not just in size but in playing style.
A self-proclaimed "nice guy" in real life, Gudbranson leaves the niceties out of the rink, where hard hits and aggressive plays have helped him develop a reputation as a player who shouldn't be reckoned with.

Career Statistics:
Goals: 5
Assists: 40
Points: 45

Sunday, May 30, 2010

QUICKLINES May 30 - June 5

The Toronto Maple Leafs lose their chance at getting the number 1 pick for the 2010 NHL Draft, choosing instead to hand it over to the Edmonton Oilers in order to keep right winger Phil Kessel. As a result, the Oilers have their choice of either Tyler Seguin or Taylor Hall to add to their team for the 2010-2011 season.
The Maple Leafs are not regretting their decision to turn over first pick to the Oilers. Leafs head coach Ron Wilson defends the choice by saying he is happy with the current roster, adding that the familiarity and presence of Phil Kessel would be more beneficial to the team than the addition of a new player.
Though the Leafs finished second to last in rankings in the 2009-2010 regular season, the team experienced a burst of new energy following the trade that sent Dion Phaneuf from Calgary to Toronto. The success of Phaneuf as a Leaf has prompted Wilson to name him team captain for the upcoming season.

Hockey legend and Hall-of-Famer Steve Yzerman has taken over Brian Lawton's position as general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning. The team's owner, Jeff Vinik, fired Lawton on April 12, following an embarrassing season for the team, who finished 25th in the league in 2009-2010. Head coach Rick Tocchet was also fired and the Lightning have yet to name a replacement.
Flames fans back in Calgary were disappointed when Yzerman took the position with Tampa Bay, quelching the rumours that he was to replace Darryl Sutter as the Flames GM.
Both Darryl and Brent Sutter were criticized for their choices during the 2010 trades, which sent Dion Phaneuf, Ollie Jokinen, Dustin Boyd and a few others packing, while acquiring most of their new players from the 28th ranked team in the league, the Toronto Maple Leafs. There is still some indecision within the Calgary franchise as to whether the Sutters will stay or go for the following season.

Back From A Much Needed Break

It's finally here: the Stanley Cup Finals. And this series is betweent the Philadelphia Flyers and the Chicago Blackhawks. As some may have noticed, I have not been active on this blog since the end of April. The reason being is that I needed a break from hockey, since my last hope for the playoffs, the Pittsburgh Penguins, were eliminated in Game 7 in the series against the Montreal Canadiens. The 8th seed team, who had also eliminated the 1st seed Washington Capitals in the first round of the Playoffs, buried puck after puck past the Penguins' Marc-Andre Fleury, sealing the win.

Being a die-hard Flames and Pens fan, I became bitter about my luck this season. And so, I felt that by closing my eyes and plugging my ears to any hockey talk, I could slowly but surely recover from the sting of elimination.

But now, a month later, I am ready to return to the ice. Mainly because of the wonderful news Gary Bettman has delivered this past week.

Next season, Canada gets its very own Winter Classic, pitting the Calgary Flames against the Montreal Canadiens. And even better news: it will be played right here in Calgary, at the McMahon Stadium football field.
The USA's Winter Classic has the NHL's two biggest stars playing against each other on New Year's Day. Alexander Ovechkin and his Capitals will be travelling to Pittsburgh to do battle with Sidney Crosby and the Penguins.

The next season is already looking 10 times better than this one has been. Surely, the sting of being eliminated in the second round of the Playoffs will still be fresh with Crosby, and no doubt he will explode onto the ice with a bang come October.
And for the Calgary Flames, not making it into the Playoffs for the first time in 5 years is more than enough motivation to pick up their game.

I'm considerably cheered up as I look ahead to the next season of hockey to come. Are you?