January 9, 2013

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Four Words for Hockey Fans: The NHL Is Back!

By: Matt Bowen

It may have brought up bad memories or left a bad taste in one’s mouth, but the best news for any hockey fan this New Year is that the NHL is back in session.

The NHL is back!

Just when fans were beginning to accept the thought of missing another season due to a labor dispute, the NHL and NHLPA worked out a deal. Hockey enthusiasts everywhere have not forgotten the locked out 2004-05 season and this time the league got a much needed deal done in the eleventh hour.

So, when does the puck drop?

That’s the beauty of this deal, we don’t really know yet.

What we do know is that the season will be 48 games, teams will report to camp no later than Sunday, January 13, and that the regular season will most likely begin within a week from then.

So, as gut wrenching as it was to miss months of NHL hockey already, instant gratification takes place with games beginning seemingly overnight thanks to the new collective bargaining agreement. The new CBA’s biggest perk is certainly the 10-year deal with an opt-out clause after eight years.

This is what the league needed most—to guarantee its fans that the game can gain momentum after its latest hiccup. The NHL has officially done that and the sky is now the limit.

While there may be plenty of jilted fans at the moment, as soon as the lamp is lit smiles will overcome those who currently frown.

What’s not to love about NHL action?

At this point, a 48-game season is perfect. There will be a league-wide competitive (dis)advantage with the lack of preseason play.  The teams that gel together the fastest will find themselves in the playoffs.  Rookies will have a true trial-by-fire. No team can afford a losing streak of more than three games.

So, who are the teams to keep an eye on this season?

The Minnesota Wild and their fans have been waiting for this moment since last summer when they landed free agent stars Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. The passion for hockey runs thick in the Land of 10,000 Lakes and the buzz surrounding the Wild right now has reached a fever pitch.

Another team to expect big things from is the Edmonton Oilers. After having the No. 1 overall draft pick three-straight seasons, the shortened season could be a blessing to the franchise looking for prominence. The trio of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle will look to get off to a fast start and reach the playoffs. With so much young talent on the Oilers it’s only a matter of time before the team is the most feared in the entire NHL.

One NHL team to fear right now is the New York Rangers. They are built to win now and the addition of superstar Rick Nash in the offseason only bolsters their chances for a Stanley Cup.  With Henrik Lunqvist between the pipes, captain Ryan Callahan, sharp shooter Marian Hossa, and all-world talent Brad Richards to accompany Nash, anything short of a Cup in 2013 will be considered a failure.

Hockey fans get ready—the season will be here in the blink of an eye.  True NHL action is what we’ve been waiting for and the league will definitely deliver.

September 13, 2012

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NHL Lockout: 5 Reasons we need to have hockey

By: Tyler Vespa

With the current CBA agreement set to expire on September 15th, the NHLPA and the owners are still not close to coming to an agreement. The NHLPA made the first proposal to the owners almost a month ago, and since then the negotiating between the two sides has been at a standstill.

The Kings became the first #8 seed to win the Stanley Cup last season.

The last time there was an NHL lockout was in the 2004-2005 season. Since then, we’ve had hockey each season. That lockout lasted 10 months and 6 days, and the main issue was the fact that the league was not a level playing field, as teams with the worst records could not get the top picks in the next draft to build the team. The result was a new lottery system where each team had an equal chance to land the first pick.

A lot of the financial issues for 2012 seem to be centered on the fact that wealthy franchises still have the upper hand. The league wants to continue to help the troubled franchises, which will automatically require the league’s wealthiest franchises to give up more money.

In the midst of all these issues, I hope the NHLPA and the team owners can come to a common ground. Personally, I have been a Detroit Red Wings fan my whole life, and can’t imagine a fall and winter without Joe Louis Arena, Mickey Redmond, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.

Here are 5 reasons we need hockey in 2012-2013:

  1. There are horrible teams in every league, MLB, NFL, etc.
  2. The Los Angeles Kings just won the Stanley Cup (8 seed)
  3. The other team in the Stanley Cup Final was the New Jersey Devils, a 6 seed
  4. There can still be NHL hockey with 5 less teams in the league
  5. Young teams are on the rise (Edmonton, Colorado, Minnesota)

Now, players might still get paid too much, but that also happens in every league. However, players should be more open to not being guaranteed all the money from each contract, this will also make it easier for players themselves to request a trade.