The Atlanta Flames, er, Thrashers are no more. The state bird of Georgia is migrating north to Canada to the city of Winnipeg.
First of all, congratulations to Winnipeg. Hockey belongs in Canada. It’s just the way things should be…and that’s coming from an American. Many in the hockey world believed that the Phoenix Coyotes (the original Winnipeg Jets team) would be sold and moved to Winnipeg, but in a bit of surprising move, it ended up being the Thrashers. While I’m sure that everyone in the Winnipeg area is thrilled over the news, but they probably would have been better with the Coyotes than the Thrashers in terms of talent. But like I said, I don’t think the people of Winnipeg really care.
As for Atlanta, my heart goes out to the few loyal Thrashers fans out there. There weren’t many of them, but to lose your team has got to hurt. But unfortunately for those people, the truth is that it was absolutely the correct move. Hopefully this kickstarts a movement to move unsuccessful teams out of their failed cities and into homes that can support them with fans and money.
The Phoenix Coyotes are the prime example of a team that needs to be sold and moved. They’ve declared bankruptcy several years ago and have since been owned by the NHL. Do I need to explain why any team in any sport being owned and financed by the league means nothing but ABSOLUTE FAILURE. Unfortunately, the Gary Bettman and the NHL seem to be content on keeping the Coyotes in Glendale and continuing to pump money that is the blackhole of hockey in the desert.
But back to Winnipeg. The NHL has decided to keep Winnipeg’s team in the Southeast Division for next season and then realign the league the year after. To me, that’s a terrible idea. Take a look at Winnipeg on the map. It’s right in the middle of Canada, near the border of the States. That means that they will have to travel routinely to Florida, Washington, D.C., and North Carolina to play divisional games. That’s 24 games in a season. And on top of that, they have to travel all the way back to Winnipeg to play home games. Now add all of the other games against Eastern Conference opponents along the East coast they’ll have to travel to in order to play the majority of their games.
Why not put them in the Central Division in the Western Conference? That’s where they were originally (although there were only two divisions per conference as opposed to three now). That means that a team from the Central Division would have to move the Southeast. Why not move the Blue Jackets? They had a similar number of points last year as the Thrashers, so it’s not like you’re moving a weak team for a powerhouse. It cuts the travel by a whole lot. And really, no offense to any Jackets fans out there, but who cares about the Blue Jackets? I don’t see many complaints about it coming from the fans.
And now for the fun part: what’s the name of the new team? Do they go back to their roots and name the team the Jets? Do they try something new? Do they pay homage to a local cultural reference? Do they pick some weird abstract name that no one understands? Maybe they can follow in the footsteps of the Thrashers and name themselves after the province bird, the Great Grey Owl. Winnipeg Owls? Meh. Oooh! How about the Winnipeg Prairie Crocuses! Official flower of the province sounds like a great choice!
On the dirty play of the Stanley Cup Final…
Alex Burrows got away with one for not getting suspended for biting Patrice Bergeron. It was quite obvious what he was doing and he deserved to sit a game. As for the taunting between players on each team with sticking their fingers to each other’s mouths, I think it’s hilarious. They do have to watch, however, as it could shift focus off the game and into the sideshows, which is what I think Maxim Lapierre was trying to do in Game 2. It didn’t seem to adversely affect the Bruins in Game 3, but don’t let the instigators under your skin.
Lucic got away with one with his heavy slash and suckerpunch of Burrows late in the game last night. He won’t be suspended by the league because it’s in the playoffs, but it was cheap in my book. Man up and square off and fight the guy–the game was well decided by the middle of the third period. Maybe Burrows wouldn’t have fought anyone, but it would have been good to humiliate him if he Mary’d out.
Aaron Rome’s hit on Horton was late. To me, that’s what made it bad. However, I don’t want to slam Rome too much, because I think the lateness of the hit was a result of a mistake in judgement and not Rome wanting to destroy Horton. Many people have said that the hit was a 3 seconds or so late, but if you look at the video, Rome lays the hit about one second after Horton releases the puck. To me, it was a poorly timed hit and not horribly bad. What made it look so bad was seeing Horton get knocked out cold. Rome has every right to hit a player in that area of the ice and for those people claiming it was a blindside hit, even if the hit came sooner and timed legally, Horton would have had his head down and would have gotten drilled, so yeah, I guess it was “blindside.” But who’s fault is that? Players need to take some responsibility and keep their heads up when going through the trolley track areas. That doesn’t justify a late hit, but it is a two-way street. I know a lot of people aren’t going to like that, but if the NHL insists on this blindside hit rule, it’s going to make the players get way too comfortable skating with their heads down. When your head is shoulder height, it makes it difficult to avoid hitting the head with a hit.
The NHL’s decision to suspend Rome for 4 games is yet more proof that there is a clear double standard when it comes to discipline. Burrows got away with biting, which was clearly captured by the cameras and less obvious cases have ended in suspensions before. If the roles were reversed and Horton had knocked out Rome, then I’d have a very hard time being convinced that Horton would have gotten a 4 game suspension. But since Rome is a lesser known player and Horton is a big name, the NHL deemed it okay to show their “toughness” on the rules.
Ready for Game 4? Was Game 3 all the Bruins can muster or are the Canucks in trouble? We’ll have to wait a few more hours to find out.
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