This is a totally random hockey edition from the mind of the one and only Derek Felix. They are only my opinion. Not anyone else’s on this blog. Here are some hot takes:
-At the All-Star Game in Los Angeles at Staples Center, the NHL unveiled its top 100. While I agreed with most of it, there were a couple of questionable selections. No disrespect. Jonathan Toews is a quality player who’s led the Blackhawks to three Stanley Cups and has one Conn Smythe and Selke on his resume. Excellent accomplishments. But he comes up a bit short to make the top 100. His 592 points in 688 games are solid and the 108 in 124 postseason games proves he can step up. But who is more deserving? Him or Evgeni Malkin. It’s not even close. Malkin has a Calder, two scoring titles, a Hart and Conn Smythe with two Cups and is over a point-per-game with 814 points in 691 games. He also is money for the most part in the postseason totaling 129 points in 124 games including a remarkable 36 (14-22-36) in the Pens’ run to the Cup in 2009.
-Toews is a great two-way center who has never had a minus season. He’s a complete player who is superb on face-offs and can play any situation. But he’s simply not on par with Malkin. Toews’ best season was in ’10-11 when he totaled a career high 76 points in 80 games following his Conn Smythe in the 2010 playoffs. He won it with 29 points (7-22-29) edging Patrick Kane. Both are in the top 100 along with Duncan Keith. Kane is the most deserving with a Calder, Art Ross, Hart, Conn Smythe and over a point-per-game (712 points in 710 games). Keith is a superb defenseman. But he’s not better than Zdeno Chara. Another glaring omission. Keith has two Norris Trophies and a playoff MVP. But he’s not as complete a player as Chara, who led he Bruins to a Cup in 2010-11. He only has one Norris but that’s also because the Professional Hockey Writers would rather select higher scoring defenseman than the best overall blue liners who do everything.
-When Mike Milbury traded Chara as part of that awful package to the Senators which also turned into Jason Spezza for Alexei Yashin, do you think he was thinking clearly? This is the same guy who thought it was a good idea to trade away Roberto Luongo and Olli Jokinen for Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha. At least he got one right acquiring Michael Peca from Buffalo for a package headlined by Taylor Pyatt. Those teams made the playoffs but were one and done even after Rick DiPietro took over in net.
–Joe Nieuwendyk’s inclusion in the top 100 is mystifying. It’s not that he wasn’t a very good player. He won a Cup with the Flames and was pivotal to the Stars’ Cup in ’99 a decade later winning playoff MVP with 11 goals and 10 assists. A third Cup came with the ’03 Devils with his injury helping inspire the team to upset the Senators in Game 7 and defeat the Mighty Ducks in seven. His career numbers are excellent with 564 goals and 562 assists for 1126 points in 1257 games. Nieuwendyk was a very good player. Compared to Joe Thornton, who somehow wasn’t “good enough” for this list, he comes up short. Jumbo Joe doesn’t have the Cups finally playing in last year’s Final for the Sharks before losing to the Pens. But he is about to reach 1,000 assists. One of the game’s best passing centers who is very complete, he’s got an Art Ross and Hart coming in ’05-06. After coming over from Boston, he put up a ridiculous 92 points with 72 of them assists to pass Jaromir Jagr and win the MVP. While his postseason history has been criticized, Thornton has 121 points in 156 games. That included 21 last Spring with 18 helpers. Even in the latter stages of his career, he had a huge second half to finish in the top five in scoring with 82 points in ’15-16. A tremendous accomplishment. Yet he’s so disrespected.
-These lists are far from perfect. That’s why you wonder how they decided. Malkin not being in makes no sense. Who approved Toews over him? Don Cherry. I wonder if Ilya Kovalchuk would’ve been considered had he stayed in the NHL. Pavel Datsyuk made it. He never won any major awards but was amazing. He’s one of the best two-way centers I’ve ever seen. Similar to Sergei Fedorov minus an MVP, Datsyuk was magical to watch. A three-time Selke recipient who never stopped skating, he could take the puck away and keep it like it was his before undressing defensemen and goalies with an array of moves that would make Renoir jealous. It’s too bad he went home. He finished with 918 points (314-604-918) and a plus-249 rating while winning two Cups all with the Red Wings. He will make the Hockey Hall of Fame without ever winning a scoring title, Hart or Conn Smythe. That’s how complete he was.
-I only caught a glimpse of the All-Star Game on Sunday. The 3-on-3 tournament is fun to watch for fans but let’s be honest. It’s a glorified exhibition that is hardly what the original game was. I prefer the 5-on-5 format. Switch it back to North America versus the World. And alternate East vs West. Or maybe even do a Young Stars vs All-Stars challenge. That would be way better.
-Ever since Doug Weight replaced Jack Capuano, the Islanders haven’t lost in regulation. In my opinion, what set the tone was a defiant Weight saying they’re a playoff team after a win at the start. I think that was a message the players needed to hear. It certainly wasn’t coming from Capuano, who at one point called out management for the departures of Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen and Matt Martin. With the team 5-0-1 since Weight took over, they’re only three out of the the last wildcard. In fact, don’t forget they won Capuano’s final game 4-0 over Boston. So, they’ve gotten 13 of a possible 14 points while impressively beating the Blue Jackets, Canadiens and Capitals in succession. Full marks to Weight and his players for turning it around.
-Who would’ve ever thought Thomas Greiss would be the best goalie in New York?
-When Henrik Lundqvist bails after a 41 second interview in which he again had a rough night getting chased in a home defeat to Columbus, you know it’s bad. Sadly, he’s basically costing my fantasy team a chance at not only winning our league but even finishing in the money. Way to go Derek!
-One thing about this whole Barclays Center thing with the Islanders. Did anyone really expect it to work out? They used them. Plain and simple. Where the Islanders wind up nobody knows. They belong in Long Island. Nassau County kicked them to the curb like a bunch of rats. They were the best thing about that place. What a bunch of egotistic snobs. I don’t like the idea of the Islanders building a new arena adjacent to Citi Field in Queens. It would create too much traffic. Don’t believe me? Try going to Met Life Stadium and getting out of there following a concert or football game.
–Alain Vigneault is a good coach. I just don’t know why the Rangers rushed it. They should’ve waited to see how this year plays out. And with Lundqvist looking like he’s aging right before our very eyes, it could spell doom.
-The Rangers are supposed to be a good team yet they can’t win at home. The Devils are not good but win on the road but stink at home. Why am I confused as to who is better at the moment?
-The dismissal of Ken Hitchcock was predictable. Even though he was gonna be replaced by Mike Yeo in ’17-18, the Blues were such a mess that they got started early. It might not be a coaching thing. But more about personnel. No David Backes. A disappointing roster that doesn’t score consistently and a overrated defense. Maybe the coaching change will work. You can’t lose on home ice to Winnipeg.
-Finally, Dale Hawerchuk was way over a point a game but played in obscurity first with Buffalo and then Winnipeg before finishing with the Flyers and Blues. I’m not saying he belongs in that top 100. But I wonder how much consideration he got. Since the committee seemed to value championships, you better believe he’d have made it if he won one.