December 3, 2008

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The NHL: No Longer a Canada Thing?

By: realbigfathead

By Shawn Lucas

I was very surprised this week when reading a small article in “The Hockey News.”
Being a lifelong hockey fan, I was completely shocked when reading the names of the top ten active leaders in career points – not so much by the names as  their nationalities….

The NHL has traditionally been dominated by Canadians.  In 2007-08, more than half (52%) of all NHL players were from Canada.  The top ranks of the NHL, though still full of Canadians, is no longer a league dominated by players from The Great White North.

Today’s domination comes from stars such as Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin, Washington’s Alex tandem of Semin and Ovechkin and who can overlook what has been the strongest team of the last decade, the Detroit Red Wings, whose team boasts the likes of Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Marian Hossa and the league’s best defenseman in Nicklas Lidstrom?

The future of hockey definitely looks bright on the global stafe.  On the list of active NHL leaders in career points, there are only 3 Canadians – while the USA is represented 4 times, the most of any country on the list.  There are a few developments that could re-define the list this year.

If Brendan Shanahan, 1340 (CAN) or Mats Sundin, 1321 (SWE) can catch on with a team, then each would bump someone off the list.  As they are not currently active, here is the list of active players and their respective nationalities

1.    Joe Sakic, Colorado Avalanche, 1641 (CAN)
2.    Mark Recchi, Tampa Bay Lightning, 1393 (CAN)
3.    Mike Modano, Dallas Stars, 1294 (USA)
4.    Jeremy Roenick, San Jose Sharks, 1207 (USA)
5.    Teemu Selanne, Anaheim Ducks, 1176, (FIN)
6.    Sergei Fedorov, Washington Capitals, 1155, (RUS)
7.    Rod Brind’Amour, Carolina Hurricanes, 1127 (CAN)
8.    Keith Tkachuk, St. Louis Blues, 996 (USA)
9.    Doug Weight, N.Y. Islanders, 985 (USA)
10.    Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit Red Wings, 950 (SWE)

September 8, 2008

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Joe Says It’s So

By: realbigfathead

By John Fontana

There was a rumbling in the Rockies on Sept.2. It was caused by fans roaring at the news Colorado Avalanche center Joe Sakic is returning for another season.  He said during his press conference to announce his decision that he is coming back simply because he loves the game. The 39-year-old will be entering his 20th season, which is an eternity in a sport that is both graceful and brutal.

Sakic is the quintessential good guy, never turning the spotlight on himself, never spouting bravado, instead garnering attention by the way he plays.  He has two Stanley Cups, an Olympic gold medal, seven international World Cup and World Junior Cup appearances, three stints on the Canadian Olympic team and 12 All-Star Games. He has 623 goals and 1,629 points in his NHL career, which started when he was selected in the first round (No. 15) by the Quebec Nordiques in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft.  Sakic moved with the Nordiques to Denver in 1995-1996 so he has been with the same organization his entire career.

The Avs aren’t what they were in the glory days, but the fan base in Denver is not deterred. In fact, Sakic has filled them with optimism for the coming season.  Last year wasn’t so bright for Sakic, who endured arguably his most difficult season on skates. He missed 38 games after surgery for a sports hernia before returning to help the Avs reach the playoffs. Instead of a storybook ending, Sakic and the Avs ended up as mere asphalt under the steamroller driven by eventual champions the Detroit Red Wings

Mr Clutch

Joe Sakic Fathead: Mr Clutch

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But that was last year, Sakic said in his recent  “I’m back” press conference that he is happy with new roster additions that include Per Ledin, Andrew Raycroft, Daniel Tjarnqvist, Darcy Tucker and Brian Willsie.
“I like what we have here, but the biggest decision for me was whether I was willing to do what it took to play,” Sakic said. “And once I started training and got the excitement, I realized I wanted to come back.”
As fans wait for the puck to drop, what do you think Sakic means to the Avs chance at the playoffs – and dare I say a Stanley Cup run?