A collection of the latest news from around the world of hockey:
The NHL announced that there will be four outdoor games next season. Yes, despite viewer numbers dwindling for the latest Stadium Series game, the league is forging ahead anyway. Remember when outdoor games were cool? When the games were exciting, unique and special? Remember when it brought us back to our roots, playing on frozen ponds, and just enjoying being outside in the elements? Remember when Sidney Crosby’s game winning shoot-out goal against the Sabres brought everyone to their feet? It all seems so long ago. The nostalgia is long gone. The fuzzy feeling is long gone. Obviously, some people still love it, and the players still feel the excitement. But do the majority of fans really care anymore?
The Blackhawks will be featured in their fifth game. The Penguins in their forth, the Flyers in their third. The Red Wings and Leafs will have a repeat of the 2014 Winter Classic. These outdoor games aren’t about celebrating the grassroots of hockey. In fact, they likely never were. This was and always will be a money grab for the league, and isn’t that what it’s all about? Choosing the teams that will sell the most merchandise, and get the most viewers will be there time and time again. At the end of the day, it probably doesn’t even matter. The fans who attend have fun. The players and their families have fun. And the alumni games are always great to see.
Is it overkill? Yes. Is it only about money at this point? Absolutely. But unless the conditions are dangerous, the games aren’t hurting anyone, even though it’s tough that two regular points are on the line for games that are nothing like the other 81 regular season games, all of which are worth the same amount of points. It’s not going to change, however, so long as stadiums sell out, jerseys fly off the shelves and the league gets the spotlight. I guess that’s the whole point of professional sports. Figure out what makes the most money, and beat it to death. [Yahoo]
In other news…
The Capitals may get down but they’re never out. [LA Times]
Darnell Nurse may face suspension for attacking Roman Polak. The kid’s heart was in the right place, but Polak wasn’t ready to fight, and the optics didn’t look good. Of course you want guys to stand up for the teammates, and that happens even when there’s no dirty play involved, but Nurse may pay the price for being a little over-zealous. [Copper N Blue]. Hopefully he’ll will learn how to harness that passion. No one wants him to lose the intensity, he just has to pick his spots.
UPDATE: The league came down hard on Nurse, handing him a three-game suspension. [NHL]
The Oilers could use a Paul Coffey-type player. [Beer League Heroes]
Alex Galchenyuk is having a fantastic stretch. Can he keep it up and be the Habs true number one centerman? [CTV]
The case against Patrick Kane has officially been closed. [ESPN]. On the ice, his play has certainly not been affected. [Sports Illustrated]
Which players may be able to challenge Kane for the Hart Trophy? [The Hockey News]
It’s been a whirlwind season for Rob Scuderi but he’s back in familiar territory. [Today’s Slap Shot]
Life without Jaroslav Halak started with a loss to the Leafs. [Sportsnet], [Globe and Mail]
And finally, do the Flyers have what it takes to earn a playoff spot? [Along the Boards]