Covid-19 And The NHL
The ongoing Covid threat remains. The N.J. jersey talk. Flyers reunion tops again. Debating the shootout.
We must start with the obvious.
Covid-19 has not gone away.
For a while we labored under the misapprehension that it would evaporate like the Spanish Flu epidemic after World War I.
That was then. Circumstances vastly differ now -- with world-wide effects.
The NHL knows all about it since the Ottawa Senators had three games suspended and rescheduled due to the Pandemic.
Next it hit the Islanders whose roster was similarly trimmed because of the disease. The hope, of course, is that Covid somehow could be cancelled and the NHL can return to normalcy.
Based on what we already know -- and have experienced -- the question of NHL participation in the Olympics rapidly has become a topic of serious discussion.
Gary Bettman and Bill Daly were well aware of the challenges. Ditto for Don Fehr, who runs the union.
But, what concerns me is the attitude of Fehr's NHLPA card-holders; and especially, the PA's leaders such as Sidney Crosby.
Queried about his attitude toward going to China under the current, concerned circumstances, the Penguins captain unequivocally stated that he's still gung-ho for going.
What Sid did not address was the ongoing Covid threat and that maybe -- just maybe -- it no longer may be a bright idea for the world's best players to, well, simply to take the chance.
Bettman and Daly know the score; know the scene and are on top of the medical ramifications. In the end, they won't take a reckless gamble.
As for Fehr; right now we have nothing to fear. We'll know more next month!
HEADLINE: THE NEW DEVILS JERSEY IS EXCITING.
THE JIVE: After my piece about the new Devils uniform yesterday, I wondered just what kind of reaction the jersey would get. To say the least, fans are talking about it the most. Which is not exactly the surprise of the century.
Matter of fact, whenever a hockey club produces a new uniform it inevitably inspires controversy. Some fans prefer the status quo and others yearn for change. This is nothing new; far from it.
I recall when the New York Americans entered the NHL in 1925, they were hailed for their star-spangled uniforms. And believe me, they were arresting and gorgeous. Plus, the jersey lasted a few years and then was replaced with another that had a huge "A" on the front. Further variations followed.
In fact, Amerks boss changed the team name to Brooklyn Americans for 1941-42 although the team continued playing home games at Madison Square Garden.
Dutton dropped the star-spangled uniform, replacing it with a bland, yellow jersey with BROOKLYN on an angle in the front. Tnat, by the way, was the Americans last NHL season.
For decades -- especially under Lou Lamoriello's reign -- the Devils stayed with one design with a few color alterations here and there. Unlike most other teams, the New Jersey approach was quite conservative. But that's all changed under the current ownership.
Planning for the new entry was intense, lengthy and with considerable thought to minute details. The result -- not surprisingly -- has been an exciting product that will grow in popularity, even among the critics.
Although I was not an art history major at Brooklyn College, I have a good eye for what looks good. Frankly, I love what the Devils have produced. Plus, I assure you that it's here to stay!
HEADLINE: THE GALA REUNION ON BROAD STREET, PHILADELPHIA
THE JIVE: Ever since the Ed Snider Era in Philly, the Flyers have had the knack for doing things right; classy-right, to be more precise. And one reason for that was Snider's press agent, super publicist Joe Kadlec.
I'm delighted to report that Joltin' Joe is still around and still doing the right things. Most recently one of them was a colossal Flyers reunion. And, perhaps colossal is an understatement. For this event some of the most notable Flyers -- dating back to the club's origin in 1967 -- showed up for the event.
My favorites included the following:
MURRAY CRAVEN: As Joe Kadlec noted, he was a "perennially underrated forward; speedy and highly-effective without the puck."
BRAD MARSH: I called him "The defenseman's defenseman." Joe calls him a "heart and soul guy" which he was. Also, a team leader.
BRIAN PROPP: An elite forward in the Bobby Clarke category. Brian played in five NHL All-Star Games as a Flyer and five Stanley Cup Finals.
KJELL SAMUELSSON. We called him The Skating Tripod. He stood 6-6 and used that reach like nobody's business. Also call him tough, gritty.
MARK HOWE: One of the best two-way D-men in NHL history and a well-deserved Hall of Famer. Like his dad, Gordie, he owned an A-1 hockey sense.
REGGIE LEACH: He was Philly's answer to Bobby Hull. Leach tallied 45-plus goals three times as a Flyer. His shot was a pure laser beam.
ERIC LINDROS: I'll always love the big fella because he did between period interviews with me when everyone said he would not. Super guy.
SCOTT HARTNELL: Scotty was tough, fast and was a nine-time 20-plus goal scorer in the NHL. He hit a PIM high of 159 in 2007-08.
JOHN LECLAIR: Vermont's gift to Philly is the only Flyer to score 50 or more goals in three straight seasons. His shot was Leach-like in m.p.h.
BOBBY CLARKE: Deservedly the face of the franchise as well as its heart and soul. No way Philly wins two consecutive Cups with the Captain!
HEADLINE: A SHOOTOUT ON THE SHOOTOUT
THE JIVE: TFR's Glenn Dreyfuss referees a verbal skills competition on the NHL's most divisive game-decider.
For the Shootout: "It guarantees an ending to games in reasonable times." (Adam Proteau, si.com)
Against: "There's no bigger buzzkill than when a riveting three-on-three OT leads to a shootout." (Pete Blackburn, cbssports.com)
For: "It’s the essence of hockey distilled into one breathless moment." (Helene Elliott, latimes.com)
Against: "Am I the only one who hates to see a great hockey game decided by fake hockey?" (Diana Nearhos, tampabay.com)
For: "If the shootout was taken out, the quality of playoff hockey would decrease because teams wouldn’t be as healthy." (Brady Smith, thehockeywriters.com)
Against: "Actual hockey plays should determine outcomes and not just players who can find the hole on a breakaway." (Don Brennan, ottawasun.com)
To break this 3-3 deadlock, here's longtime NHL g.m. George McPhee, as quoted by washingtonpost.com:
For: "It’s entertaining, it has drama and kids love it. You look around the arena during a shootout and everyone’s standing."
Against: “But I don’t think anyone thinks that it’s the same as winning a hockey game.”
Well, we're still tied, so we look down the bench and summon writer Christopher Powers, marveling at Artemi Panarin's shootout winner for the Rangers in a 2020 game. "He has the hands of a god, and he showed them off as he drew closer to Wild goalie Alex Stalock. It was an absolute dangle fest." (golfdigest.com)
There you have it; the shootout wins, 5-4. What's that you say? Pulling a hockey quote from Golf Digest was a gimmick? No question, but it broke the tie, and weren't you entertained?