Some hockey thoughts from the Southwest of America:
– I haven’t watched an ounce of Olympic hockey. Let’s get this out of the way now: I’ve been busy. No, really. I probably could have, but I truly have another thing that is keeping me full time busy, and hockey is just going to have to take a back seat for the moment. I don’t even know who plays or played today. Seriously.
– Last Olympics, I watched the final game with my buddy Jay Kumar, then we recorded some podcasts after (his and mine). It’s going to be hard to trump that experience. Jay is awesome, and a treat to watch a game with. In fact, I seem to have luck with people named Jay.
– Should the NHL participate in the Olympics? I have mixed feelings on it. I would like to see the amateur players get back in the game, and if there are going to be so many restrictions on other Olympians, they should apply to the hockey players as well. But the cat is out of the bag, and the only way to remain relevant and not wind up with an asterisk on the Olympic records is to keep the NHL in. No one cared about the World Cup of Hockey (except me), and few care about the World Juniors and World Championships. Everything else is also ran. I think they stay, and the IOC makes a few more concessions to the NHL, which is not their usual MO.
– I took a few skills classes in Tempe, AZ these past two weeks. Our coach was great. At 9:00PM, he holds a rookie class, where people who can sort of propel themselves while skating on their ankles do a few things with a puck, then slam into the end boards because they can’t stop. The entire time they are doing drills, the coach is yelling at them. “Butt on the boards! BUTT ON THE BOARDS!!!” I watched this before my first class and thought, I hope this guy is our coach. This is awesome.
Sure enough, he was, but the yelling was not there. We had a neutral zone passing drill, and he was encouraging and firm. After a few drills, he explained the point of what we were doing, then told us to have a good scrimmage. What an absolute blast. I got home at close to three in the morning (scrimmage until just past midnight, change, gas up the car, drive to Tucson), and was pumped to do it again the next week. Hockey is alive in the desert.
– Adrian Dater says, via twitter, that Ryan O’Reilly will not be traded from the Avs (stick tap to Lyle Richardson for the pointer). Proof there is a new attitude in Colorado? In the old regime, money and being butt-hurt would have trumped any stats. In the old regime, O’Reilly would be gone this month, or the end of the season, and we would never see the GM poke out from his hole, see his shadow, and blow six more weeks of BS up our backsides. Let’s get this straight: something considered a ‘cancer to the locker room,’ or a ‘business issue’ can be worked out. And winning, just like it brings back the fans, brings the players together. A lot more than losing will.
– Next trip, Vegas, baby. Or more specifically, I finally get to see my first Las Vegas Wranglers home game, at Orleans Arena. And this is going to be their last season there (unless they work out a lease deal, which it sounds like they won’t), so I have to get there while the getting is good. But also, this is their annual Midnight Circus, which means they will play the game at midnight, and they will have circus performers. I’m not kidding. The Wranglers have the best promotions. It also helps that the opposing team is the Colorado Eagles, and I just so happen to have an Eagles jersey with me. Want more Vegas? Check out this great oral history of the movie Swingers. If you’ve ever dreamed big and thought there was no way you could do it, read this and remember that this is the guy who directed Iron Man.
– We play this little game on Twitter every Avalanche game called #AvsTwitterPsychic. All you do is guess who scores the first goal for the Avs, and you get a retweet. So far, Nathan MacKinnon has a team-leading 9 first goals. He has a team leading 22 goals. He’s fourth on assists and third in points. The kid is good, and playing like an NHLer much earlier than a lot of rookies. Matt Duchene took several years to break out of his junior habits. As much as I would love to see Kevin Shattenkirk still playing for the Avs, he took some time to break out of his college style (but he has, and it didn’t take that long). MacKinnon doesn’t stand out as a rookie, and I mean that in the best possible way.
– Quick survey time. Do you skate?