Hockey has always been ultra competitive. I remember when I was growing up, I wanted to win every game. It didn’t matter if we were playing house league, open stick time, or in the finals for some elite tournament.
The NHL is filled with similarly minded people, and it makes sense. If you aren’t willing to do everything in your power to win the game, you’ve already lost. Weirdly enough, it seems that this competitiveness has spilled over into the day to day productions of NHL franchises.
The LA Kings are a great example of this. They have a world class twitter account that often spits out funny gifs and videos of mid-game events or other goings-ons. Their ability to chirp is legendary as well, as they rarely seem corny and never cross a line. This angle reaches out to a younger audience and often makes the team seem more accessible. It’s a brilliant strategy in a city that features eight other professional sports teams.
Obviously, every team has a social media presence, and some are much better than others, but I’ll never talk smack about a club trying something new. The Dallas Stars, for example, have one of the best re-signing videos ever. But they’re not the only team that’s trying something different.
The Nashville Predators social media team has begun posting cryptic photos of injured star player, Filip Forsberg, all over their twitter. The photos range from sick dangles to Forsberg celebrating to Forsberg just staring intently into space.
My original guess was that they were ominously suggesting that Forsberg was returning shortly, but it turned out to be a push for Forsberg to be named an all-star. Nevertheless, it was a pretty interesting idea and definitely got the fanbase talking.
1) Wu-Tang… I Mean Hockey Is For The Kids
I understand how people can dislike the Toronto Maple Leafs fanbase. There’s a lot of them and whenever you get a large group together, there’s going to be some trashy people. It’s just the way of the world.
What makes me like Toronto, besides their play, is the way they reach out to non-traditional demographics. They aren’t just marketing to the white male who’s between 25 and 40 years old, they’ve started to market towards kids.
The Leafs played their first ever “Next Generation Game” on Thursday afternoon at 2PM Eastern time. What made it special was that kids were often doing the in-game announcements and promotions. On top of that, the pump-up video and entertainment was Fortnite themed.
The Predators should shamelessly steal this idea and try to get the kids to come out. There should be a game every other month or so that is a “kid game”, where the Predators look to sell discounted tickets to families in lower socioeconomic neighborhoods. The money you’d lose from the 5,000 seats would be made back instantly in FSTN commercial revenue and merchandise sales.
All it takes is one game. All that kid needs to see is Forsberg sniping or Subban spinning once and they’ll be sold for the rest of their life. I know it’s easy for me to say this as someone who holds no stock in the Predators and therefore wouldn’t lose a cent, but you’d make the money back and the goodwill you’d earn among the league would be incredible.
Alright, enough talk about the youngsters, let’s talk about people a few years older.
Editor’s Note: The Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville’s AHL affiliate) hold at least one game a season that takes place during the day, allowing school-age children to attend a weekday game.
2) Stunner In Victoria
No, it’s not a Stone Cold Stunner from Victoria, Texas. Rather, the hockey world was stunned when two giants fell on Wednesday night in British Columbia.
Canada lost a nail biter against the Finns while the Swiss inched out the Swedes. What’s weird was how close (or not) the games were.
The Canadians had some quality chances, but Rasmus Kupari and Aleski Heponiemi dominated the red and black. The game wasn’t as close as the scoreboard shows, even if Noah Dobson hit some terrible luck on a sure goal and Maxime Comtois missed a penalty shot in overtime. Michael DiPietro had an amazing game, but Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen was just a bit better. The Finns dominated and deserved to advance.
The Swiss victory was a bit different. The Swede’s lack of offensive talent finally came to bite them in the backside, as Erik Brannstrom, Adam Boqvist, and Rasmus Sandin couldn’t get one past the Swiss netminder.
The Finn’s victory comes as a bit of a surprise, although it shouldn’t. Canada is as good as ever but Finland boasts an incredible team with some blue-chip prospects. I think at least five players from this squad will be a full-time NHLers in the next two seasons.
3) It’s Just A Game
Every so often, I have to remind myself that hockey is just a game. It matters as much as we make it matter. It should bring us out of our seat and sometimes it should humble us, but it should never inspire us towards malice.
As someone who’s worked in the game, I have to remind myself that it’s just that, a game. You should absolutely feel free to criticize a play, coaching decision, or on ice incident, but you should never target the character of a player for their on ice play. Especially a player who can’t legally drink a beer in the bar you’re tweeting from.
The World Junior Championships are one of my favorite events of the year. It’s the best and brightest from each country and you can feel the emotion and passion from each kid. As weird as it sounds, I feel the elation when a player scores a big goal, and I frown when the camera pans to the goalies heart-broken face. It’s because of this emotion that I love this tournament so much, but some people don’t see it the same way.
The tweets directed at Maxine Comtois and other members of Team Canada have been absolutely disgusting. These are kids who laid it all out there for their country. You don’t think they’re already disappointed with the result? They don’t need some nobody from Moose Hat (not a real place) Saskatchewan telling them they messed everything up or they’re an embarrasment to their country. Also, this one is going to be speific, but if you wish an auto-immune disease upon someone for missing a penalty shot, throw your phone in a frozen lake and dive in to get it.
It may seem like I’m picking on Canadian fans here, and it’s not my intention, every country does this. It’s just that the Canadians were the most recent example.
Alright, let’s think positive for the next one.
4) The Spirit Of Wild Bill
It’s been hard to ignore Viktor Arvidsson this season. The Swedish winger has 11 goals and 17 points in 17 games this season, which leads to a little concern.
Arvidsson is producing a ton of shots, 52 in all situations, but he’s scoring on 21.15% of them. That’s about 10 percentage points over his career average of 11. Can we expect this to continue?
Unfortunately no, but I think that 13 or 14% could be sustainable. Arvidsson takes a lot of shots, but they’re not like Craig Smith’s, who shoots from anywhere. Arvidsson produces a ton of high danger chances because of his ability to get closer to the net and his lack of hesitation.
When Arvidsson is in the high slot (or lower) and has the puck, there’s no doubt in my mind that he’s going to take the shot. It’s one of his best attributes, in my opinion.
For those of you who are getting some deja vu from last season, this seems oddly reminiscent of Wild Bill Karlsson in Vegas. He had similar high danger numbers and posted almost the exact same goal numbers when he took the NHL world by storm last year.
5) A Sincere Note
Thank you. Thank you for reading this. Trust me, I have no delusions of grandeur here. I understand I’m just a guy who loves hockey and my words only have as much power as readers give them.
So thank you. Thank you for reading my stuff in 2018 and thank you for sticking with me in 2019. Here’s to the new year. I hope it’s the best one yet for you, the Predators, Penalty Box Radio, and myself.