Facing Off is a weekly column debating five of hockey’s hottest topics each and every Monday. From current events like trades and hat tricks to bigger-picture stuff like scandals and expansion — you name it, we’re debating it. Albeit, not always with a serious tone. We’re keeping this column light, so keep that in mind when reading, and feel free to join in on the fun by leaving a comment. Follow us on Twitter (@FacingOff_THW) and get in on the debate there too.
Is it Monday yet? No . . . well, this Facing Off couldn’t wait.
With the World Cup of Hockey starting today, we decided to break the rules by going live with a special Saturday edition of Facing Off — and not just any Facing Off, but our second-ever podcast with myself, Larry Fisher, and Félix Sicard.
My apologies to Félix, as his intro got partially drowned out by the guitar riffs of Guns N’ Roses. Félix is a Facing Off regular who covers the Anaheim Ducks for THW and also hosts the Garage Hockey Pod. There, that’s better.
As you might imagine, we’re talking plenty of World Cup, from our predictions for the upcoming tournament to our three stars from the exhibition games. We also debate unsigned free agents — both RFAs and UFAs, plus PTOs — before closing out the show with our two cents on Bodog’s Stanley Cup odds for the 2016-17 NHL season.
We had already published a Facing Off column previewing the World Cup — with guest contributor Anthony Fusco, who is covering Team Canada, back on Sept. 5 — so some parts of this podcast are rehashing or reaffirming those opinions, while also finding out whether Félix would refute them. Fortunately he did, which makes for some fun back-and-forth banter at times.
The only problem with Facing Off’s debut podcast — featuring Andrew Forbes from Aug. 22 — was the fact that Andrew and I think the game a lot alike, which meant we were in agreement on most of the topics.
That wasn’t Andrew’s fault by any means — he brought his A-game and did a bang-up job — so I’ll shoulder the blame there. In fact, I “tended to agree” far too often, to the point I was tempted to tell Félix that if he caught me “tending to agree,” I’d make a deposit to the Facing Off contributors’ jar. You know, like a swear jar for little kids. As fate would have it, I let a few more slip in Episode 2, but this time it was too many “for sure” responses.
I “tend” to be my own worst critic and the Facing Off podcast is still a work in progress, but I do feel we made significant improvements from one show to the next. For starters, I turned my mic volume up a few notches this time — though maybe it should be a little louder still, can you hear me now?
There were a few rookie mistakes in Episode 1 and perhaps some first-time jitters, but I managed to right a couple of those wrongs in Episode 2. For one, I pronounced Jimmy Vesey’s last name correctly — it’s VEE-SEY, not Veh-SEY for the record — and I had polished up on Shayne Gostisbehere (GOS-TIS-BEAR) too, but I didn’t get to test myself on that tongue-twister.
I probably should have, because Gostisbehere was right up there for my three stars from the pre-tournament games. He’s been a standout for Team North America, and the same can be said for another omission from my stars, Nikita Zaitsev, who has arguably been Russia’s best defenceman thus far. The Toronto Maple Leafs might have landed a good one there — Zaitsev is looking like a legit top-four, that’s for sure.
Nevertheless, I’m happy with how Episode 2 of the Facing Off podcast turned out and I hope you enjoy it as well. Truth be told, I think Félix and I killed it, but I’ll let our listeners be the judge. Feedback is welcome, as always, and we can keep the debates going in the comments below.
Who won this round of Facing Off? Feel free to weigh-in with your opinions. We will be checking in periodically to both defend and expand on our initial answers. If you want to see us face-off over a topic in a future column or podcast, we’re open to suggestions as well.
The Hockey Writers coverage of the World Cup of Hockey 2016 is being brought to you by PrimeSport, the official Fan Travel & Hospitality Package Partner of the World Cup of Hockey 2016.
Larry Fisher is a senior writer and head scout for The Hockey Writers, having been an at-large contributor for THW since August 2014. Fisher covers both the NHL and the WHL, specializing in prospects and NHL draft content, including his annual mock drafts that date back to 2012. Fisher has also been a beat writer for the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets since 2008, formerly working as a sports reporter/editor for The Daily Courier in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada from 2008-2019. Follow him on Twitter: @LarryFisher_KDC.