This hasn’t been a great week for leagues around North America. The AAF has suspended activity, hopefully making room for the XFL, and the CWHL decided to shut their doors for good. The timing of this couldn’t have been worse.
The World Championship is coming up and all eyes are usually on Canada and the United States, but now it’ll be for a different reason. Many of these world-class athletes are now without a team and possibly a job.
The good news is the NWHL, the women’s’ league based in the United States, has announced they’ll add two teams in Montreal and Toronto. This is a brilliant step forward and couldn’t come at a better time. Obviously this expansion wouldn’t have happened while the CWHL existed, but it would’ve been nice to make these two announcements back to back.
1. Slam Dunk
Now that there’s “one league” for women’s hockey, the NHL “doubled” their funding. But here’s the thing, they actually didn’t. They gave 50,000 dollars to both the NWHL and the CWHL, and now they’ll be giving 100,000 to the NWHL.
So, while technically the NHL will be “doubling” their investment, they’ll still be spending the same amount of money. This bothers me because they’re trying to get credit for not really doing anything.
And here’s the best part, if they did anything, literally anything, we would probably hail the NHL as some great champion of equality. But they don’t, and so we’re left hoping that salary growth will continue in 2019-20.
I just don’t understand why this has to be so hard.
2. The Silent Killer
What is the most important position in hockey? Some people will say center, others will say defender, and no one will, rightfully, say winger.
I’ve always been partial to centers, I played center for much of my playing career and I think a two-way center can make an impact that no other skater can. Unfortunately, come playoff time, there’s only one position that truly makes a difference, goaltending.
The Nashville Predators have the best goaltending in the West, and there’s an argument that they have the best in the world. Luckily for them, no one else in the West really comes close. Calgary and St. Louis both have “out-of-nowhere” goalies, but they’re likely riding a high PDO that can fall at any moment. Vegas has Marc-Andre Fleury, a goalie who has somehow shown that he can be as incredible as he can be leaky. Meanwhile, the Sharks might as well play with six skaters and leave Martin Jones at home. Then there’s the Jets, Hellebuyck is as inconsistent as they come, but he could be hot when he needs to.
There’s a good chance the Predators get outplayed in the playoffs, but because they have Rinne and Saros, they might just go on a run.
3. Death, Taxes, and Ovi
Ovechkin potted another 50 goals at the tender young age of 33. He’s a generational talent and I feel so lucky to get to watch him in his prime, even if it is in the twilight of it.
4. Judge Not
Usually, I love judging things. It’s my favorite thing. But unfortunately, there are some things I can’t make up my mind on. The Granlund trade, for instance, is something I don’t know what to make heads or tails of.
Yes, Granlund has no points at five on five and has looked super mediocre on both sides of the puck. But, he’s played with some terrible linemates and really hasn’t been given a fair shake. No offense to Nick Bonino but he’s not exactly lighting it up. I’m hoping this current line of Granlund-Turris-Smith sticks. They’re the most talented available and they deserve minutes together.
After a decent enough sample size, then I’ll feel comfortable judging the deadline deal.
The playoffs are more or less here and it’s that time of year where everything changes. Throughout the year, my colleague, Michael Wade, and I have griped about and bemoaned about many of the Predators’ decisions, but now it doesn’t matter.
We are now in “JWB” mode. Nothing matters expect “Just Win Baby”. Oh you got outshot by 20? Oh you only produced 3 high danger chances? Who cares. The only question that matters is “Did you win?”