Who are the Pittsburgh Knights?

No, they’re not Marc-Andre Fleury, Ryan Reaves, Deryk Engellend, James Neal, and David Perron.

The Pittsburgh Knights are a professional eSports organization out of Pittsburgh, PA.  Their goal is to build a legacy to contribute to the “City of Champions” through their sponsorship by the Steelers.  They compete in Super Smash Bros., PUBG, Hearthstone, Fortnite, Paladins, and Gwent.   The Knights aim to be the paragons of eSports by winning and defending championship titles.

They ensure that their teams and competitors are well-supported in their competitive efforts.  This past December they put together an all-female PUBG team called the Dames of PUBG, promoting diversity and inclusion in eSports.  In general, eSports is the perfect platform to promote and enforce a gender balance in the sports world as men don’t have a natural, physical advantage over women as they do in most sports.

One of the owners, James O’Connor, stated that they “… see the Knights as being the fourth major global franchise in Pittsburgh…” which may be a slight shun to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Pittsburgh’s professional soccer team that plays in the USL.  Either way it’s a tall statement to live up to.  The Knights may be the talk among gamers in the greater Pittsburgh area, but they’re not a household team name.  They have a long way to go to have their name alongside the Steelers, Penguins, and Pirates.  It will be interesting to see if they can accomplish this feat in the future.

Thanks for reading JMSO fans!

-A. Kam

https://www.knights.gg

Johnny Hockey: Will Skate for Skittles

Johnny Gaudreau is the first athlete, of any sport, I’ve followed from their collegiate career into the majors.  I was first introduced to his greatness when the Boston College Golden Eagles competed in the 2nd Annual Three Rivers Classic college tournament hosted by Robert Morris University.  I went into the tourney an RMU fan but ended as a fan of BC.  From the second they stepped on the ice, it was clear to see that they were on another level of talent and the team to beat.  They shutout Bowling Green in the first round and defeated Penn State 8-2 for the championship that year.  After seeing his gameplay throughout the two games, it was no surprise that Gaudreau took home the titles of tournament MVP and my favorite college hockey player.

Going back to the beginning, the Calgary Flames ran a story on Gaudreau this season speaking to how he got his start on the ice.  His father, Guy Gaudreau, was the hockey director at the local ice rink and encouraged Johnny to skate by using a line of skittles.  From there Gaudreau spent every moment he could on the ice, perfecting his skills, and most importantly to him at the time, his goal-scoring abilities.  Gaudreau has commented on his goal-scoring mentality saying, “As a kid, I was pretty shameless about it.  I’d spend entire games cherry-picking along the blue line, waiting for the puck to pop out so I could go for a breakaway.”  Anyone who has watched a youth ice hockey game knows the type of player who was the team cherry picker.  They also know that it was those players who went on to play elite hockey and continue their careers at the collegiate or Minors levels.

Johnny Gaudreau played for the Boston College Golden Eagles for three years after making the decision to hold off on transitioning to the NHL after his sophomore year to be able to play a year with his younger brother Matthew Gaudreau.  He will certainly never be forgotten by the BC Men’s Ice Hockey program or their fans any time soon.  I could write an entire article series on his nominations, awards, and titles Johnny held with BC.  To highlight a few of them, he was the Hockey East Player of the Year in both the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons, an AHCA First Team All-American in 2012-13 and 2013-14, Hockey East Tournament MVP in 2012, USA Hockey National College Player of the Year in 2014, and probably most impressive was Hobey Baker Memorial Award winner in 2014, after being a finalist in 2013.  In his Junior and final year with BC, Gaudreau tallied 80 points playing in all 40 games with a +42 and a 31-game point streak, leaving him with the third-most total points for a season in Boston College history.

During his sophomore year at BC, Johnny had the opportunity to represent Team USA at the 2013 World Juniors Championships in Russia.  Team USA went on to win the gold medal, and Gaudreau was named to the Media All-Star Team and one of the Top 3 U.S. Players.  He earned Player of the Game accolades for his game play during the 7-0 win against the Czech Republic, with the hattrick.

Gaudreau was given the name “Johnny Hockey” during his collegiate career and unlike another college athlete (*cough Johnny “Football” Manziel cough*) he has lived up to the title.  He was drafted in the 4th round (104 overall) in the 2011 NHL Draft by the Calgary Flames, who may not have known it at the time that they drafted the future face of their franchise.  Being a small player, he has worked and proven himself to be an elite NHL player.  So far in his NHL career, he has put up 127 goals and 243 assists for 370 points in 376 games with a +27 and 108 of the points coming on the powerplay.  He’s on par for the current season to surpass his previous highest point total in a season at 84 points in 80 games from the 2017-18 season, as he currently sits at 82 points in 64 games thus far.  His young trophy collection holds the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, awarded to Gaudreau for the 2016-17 season.  In his rookie season, he was also a finalist for the Calder Trophy.  He is also a 5-time NHL All-Star, deservingly so, helping the Flames to their first playoff appearance after a 6-year drought and now they sit in 1st place in the Western Conference and 2nd in the League.

Throughout his successful and fame-filled career, Johnny Gaudreau remains humble and grounded.  Growing up in New Jersey, he was a Philadelphia sports teams fan which is about the only negative thing I can find about him (#’BurghProud).  Family is clearly important to him as he put off his NHL career for a year to play at the collegiate level with his brother Matthew.  His dad always tries to make the Flames’ annual dad’s trip and you’re sure to see the Gaudreau family fan club in attendance whenever he’s in town playing the Devils or Flyers.  His dog, Bailey, is just as popular as he is in Calgary (see for yourself on her Instagram account @lil_bails13_).  Johnny ensures he gives back to the communities that support him through playing in charity games like the Comm Ave Classic between BC and BU alumni and riding in the Calgary Stampede parade.

While every NHL Star has their haters, Johnny Gaudreau is harder to hate than most.  Despite his size, he plays a big game, making up for his lack of height in heart and maybe one day Hart???  Over the years I’ve become a bigger fan of individual players rather than teams with Johnny Gaudreau always being in my top ten (he currently sits in #2 among active NHL players and #1 for forwards).  This article is pretty much one big THANK YOU to Johnny for introducing me to the BC Eagles and Calgary Flames.  It’s been an honor following his young career thus far and I can’t wait to see what he’s going to do next.

Thanks for reading JMSO fans!  Don’t forget to share your opinions, leave questions, comments, topic suggestions, and feedback in the comments/replies/DMs.  Keep it classy!

-A. Kam

 

Check out https://www.theplayerstribune.com/en-us/articles/johnny-gaudreau-hockey-calgary-flames for a great read with a lot more personal input and background on Johnny Gaudreau!

Other sources used:

https://bceagles.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=2165

https://www.nhl.com/player/johnny-gaudreau-8476346

https://teamusa.usahockey.com/worldjuniors2013

NHL’s Most Hated Players

Every sport has their heroes and villains both on and off the field/court/ice.  More often than not, the heroes and villains are also the sports’ superstars and/or one and the same.  Let’s look at one example in Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins.  He is a hero in Pittsburgh, leading the team to three Stanley Cup victories during his captaincy thus far.  He is a superstar in the NHL being the recipient of 2 Art Ross trophies, 2 Harts, 3 Ted Lindsey awards, 2 Maurice Richard trophies, and 2 Conn Smythes.  Crosby also ranks highly on the list of NHL’s most hated players due to his success, game play, and “cry baby” antics.  Superstars tend to be in the media constantly which draws more attention to their mistakes and mishaps, such as Crosby slashing off Methot’s finger, or more recently Malkin taking batting practice with Raffl’s head.  If Tanner Pearson would have committed either offense, most people would be like “who?” and then not care after the sentencing occurred instead of bringing it up time and time again.

Other heroes, superstars, and villains in the league that hold at least one of those titles include:

Alexander Ovechkin, enough said.

Brad Marchand, I mean who licks opponents just to do it?!

Tom Wilson, his suspension history is reason enough.

Ryan Reaves, is a bully really a bully if they’re bullying a bully?

P.K. Subban, he’s at the middle of all the dramatics and theatrics but yet he’s always the innocent one.

Drew Doughty, his play is as unruly as his hair.

Evgeni Malkin, don’t poke the Russian bear.

TJ Oshie, he skates a fine line between playing hard and playing dirty.

Corey Perry, he’s an accomplished aggravator.

James Neal, same as Oshie with questionable hits and actions.

Ryan Kesler, he plays a big game and talks a bigger one.

Antoine Roussel, he plays a physical game with a short fuse.

Andrew Shaw, described as dirty, reckless, and dangerous with cheap plays and one-liners.

Milan Lucic, credited as a protector of his teammates and takes on fights and penalties so they don’t have to.

Zac Rinaldo, known for his head-hunting abilities who loves a short 5-game vacation and takes them frequently.

Scott Hartnell, mostly when he was with the Flyers and Blue Jackets.  He’s kind of dropped off the radar since then.

Many say Matthew Tkachuk, but I believe Brady Tkachuk will quickly replace his brother on these lists.

They say if you have haters, then you must be doing something right.  I would say that if you have haters based on your performance and successes on the field/court/ice then you must be doing something right.

Did I miss anyone who deserves to be on the list?  If so, reply in the comments with your additions, deletions, and opinions!

Thanks for reading! Keep it classy JMSO followers.

-A. Kam

 

Reference:

https://www.hockey-reference.com

USL: Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC

After the rebrand of the team last season, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC are going into the 20th anniversary of their first season this year.  They have their first preseason game tonight against Cleveland State University and the season officially starts on March 16th at the Tampa Bay Rowdies, the first of four away games.  The first game at Highmark Stadium since their playoff loss will be April 13th.  Hopefully that game won’t go to penalty kicks (as exciting as it was, despite the outcome) and they can give their loyal Steel Army and fans a good win.

Looking at the roster heading into the season, ten players are returning from last year’s team:

Kyle Morton

Tobi Adewole

Jordan Dover

Neco Brett

Kevin Kerr

Kenardo Forbes

Noah Franke

Thomas Vancaeyezeele

Joe Greenspan

Mouhamed Dabo

The two new names currently on the roster are Ryan James and Steevan Dos Santos.  Also signed this off season were Christian Volesky and Anthony Verlarde.  Fourteen additional players were invited on trial to preseason camp, although I cannot find the names listed anywhere.

Group A is as competitive as ever, even with FC Cincinnati moving on to the MLS.  Indy Eleven and Bethlehem Steel always prove to be a challenge for the Hounds.  It will be interesting to see how the season will go for the Hounds, coming off one of their best seasons with ten returners on the roster.   What are your predictions for the upcoming USL season?

 

Keep it classy JMSO fans!

-A. Kam

Anyone but the Patriots 2019

The New England Patriots are playing in yet another Super Bowl this Sunday.  It will be their 11th appearance overall and third in a row.  They are 50% in the championship winning 5 out of the 10.  They’re playing the LA Rams who have gone 1 for 3 in their Super Bowl appearances.  It’s sure to be yet another controversial game from the teams, coaches, and players, to the officials, cheerleaders, and commercials.

Does anyone outside of Patriots fans want the Patriots to win?  And if so, why???  The Patriots have seen a lot of success in their recent history and while there are new players to the team every year, there is too much talent spread throughout the league to want to see one team win year after year.  Which takes us to the next point, are the Patriots winning on talent alone or do they have greater powers helping to sway the results in their favor?  Of course, I’m talking about the sketchy officiating as of late.  More and more it seems that one call, or lack there-of, decides the outcome of big games.  Yes, there are challenges and reviews to be had, but are there enough?  As sports have progressed with their usage of technology, should more plays and calls be review-able/challenge-able?  Would it make a difference, or would it take away from the game itself?

All biases aside, Tom Brady is a legend in the NFL.  From his impressive career numbers to his game-to-game performances, he will definitely be remembered, and his name will never die.  Or maybe you know him best for the great Deflategate of 2015.  It’s been four years, but it hasn’t been forgotten.  Either way, Tom Brady is a household name and has a reputation to uphold.  Will he be the star of Super Bowl LIII or at the center of another controversy?

Speaking of controversies, they’re happening outside of just the game aspect of Super Bowl LIII.  Many people claim to watch the super bowl just for the commercials and this year is no different.  There has been a lot of discussion leading up to this year’s super bowl due to its location in Atlanta.  Pepsi has been a long-running sponsor of the super bowl, but Atlanta is home to Coca-Cola.  It’s a soda showdown and on Sunday, only one can come out on top.

One last topic I want to touch on is a piece of history that will be made on Sunday.  With the LA Rams in Super Bowl LIII, two of their cheerleaders will make history as the first ever male cheerleaders to appear and perform at the super bowl.  I’m sure many people have their opinions about this, but I’m here to tell you it’s a big deal.  These two men are going to show young men around the world that it’s okay to be a male cheerleader in today’s society.  It also further proves the argument that cheerleading is a sport, rather than an opportunity for men to ogle women, and thus should be recognized as one.

Now, I’m sure many of you out there disagree with my opinions.  If so, I ask that you share yours in the comments while remaining respectful of all parties.

Keep it classy sports fans!

-A. Kam

Stronger than Stigma

Hockey. It’s more than just a game.

It’s not always what happens on the ice that counts. The league and individual teams plus the players and their families contribute a lot of time, money, and effort into charitable projects and foundations. This year, on January 30th, Bell Canada is sponsoring their annual Bell Let’s Talk Day to raise awareness surrounding mental health and raise money to support mental health initiatives in Canada. Since 2013, the Canadian NHL franchises have publicly supported Bell’s efforts by hosting Hockey Talks campaigns.

It seems like another NHL player is diagnosed with a concussion every week, making their mental health an even more important factor in their overall health and well-being. Former NHLer Daniel Carcillo is a leader among alumni, speaking out about his own struggles and fighting for those who have lost their own fights. Carcillo advocates for more effective strategies of determining and reporting concussions in the NHL. He shares his thoughts on the matter daily @CarBombBoom13 and through his foundation http://www.chapter5foundation.com. Their mission is to help athletes discover their new purpose and transition into life after their sports careers end.

Earlier today, Carcillo shared this tweet from @DalaiLama, “We should practise by showing affection and helping one another. It is a mistake to pursue happiness and to seek to the avoid suffering by deceiving and humiliating other people. We must try to achieve happiness and eliminate suffering by being considerate and good-hearted.”

It’s time to #EndTheStigma that athletes need to be tough of the time and put on a front for teammates, family, fans, and the media. There are so many programs, foundations, movements, and efforts to spread the importance of mental health and raise awareness. In addition to Bell Let’s Talk Day, Hockey Talks, and Chapter 5 Foundation, there is Do It for Daron (http://www.difd.com/) a youth-driven and focused movement, Bring Change 2 Mind (https://bringchange2mind.org/), and many more.

There are many ways, we as fans, friends, family, and strangers can support these movements and those battling with their mental health and well-being:
TALK ABOUT IT – Start a dialogue, not a debate
BREAK THE SILENCE – Talk about how mental illness touches us all in some way                directly or through a friend, family member or colleague. Stories of lived experience          are the best way to help eradicate stigma.
LISTEN AND BE KIND – Support mental health and anti-stigma programs in your                community.

On January 30th Bell Let’s Talk Day, Bell will donate more towards mental health initiatives in Canada by contributing 5¢ for every applicable text, call, tweet, social media video view and use of our Facebook frame or Snapchat filter. For EVERY Tweet and Retweet containing the hashtag #BellLetsTalk, 5 cents will be donated. It’s something small we can all do to make a difference.
It’s time to be #StrongerThanStigma together.

-A. Kam

 
https://letstalk.bell.ca/en/bell-lets-talk-day
https://www.nhl.com/canucks/community/hockey-talks

Heartbreak

The Pittsburgh Pirates, I know even mentioning the name sends shivers up my spine. A storied franchise for quite some time in Pittsburgh has come and gone. One of the main contributors to this decline is Bob Nutting. I feel like Timmy Turners dad when he mentions, his neighbor Dinkelberg! That’s what it feels like to me when someone mentions Bob Nutting, pure loathing. According to sporttrac.com, the pirates are second to last in salary, though I thought they were dead last, but no Tampa Bay owns that spot.

The Pirates are dishing out a whopping $57,675,002.  We are seeing our NL central foes dishing out money like there is no tomorrow, for example the Cardinals are paying 147,876,666, the Cubs 206,850,714 and even the Reds 105,123,214. If the Pirates were to double their salary, they would still be under the league average. In the business of baseball, you have to spend money to win. I’m not trying to say you have to be dishing out 400 million each year but when your whole teams’ payroll is just what Bryce Harper, one player, makes in a year that seems to be a bit ridiculous. Francisco Cervelli is our highest paid player REALLY! A 32-year-old catcher who can’t manage to stay healthy for one season. Ok Buddy!

The revenue sharing the Pirates receive has been put into question as of late: where is the money going? Frank Coonelly deflected that question and said we are spending it within the rules. Unless Seven Springs is where the Pirates play, I doubt that what he says is true. If Bob Nutting truly wanted what’s best for the Pirates’ organization and their players, he would have sold them to Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle in 2010 when they offered to buy it. Instead Nutting down right refused their offer, simply because it wouldn’t be good for his wallet.

I know this ranting is probably getting annoying but I’m sure not the only Pirates fan who feels this way. I’m not even sure anymore why I root for this team, but I do, maybe it’s because Pittsburgh is in my blood, or maybe it’s become a sickness within me. One day I hope to be able to say with pride LETS GO BUCS!

Cody Potanko

2019 NHL All Star Game Preview

Tonight is the 2019 NHL All Star Skills Competition and the NHL All Star Game is set for tomorrow.  The six categories for the skills competition are as follows:

Bridgestone NHL Fastest Skater

Enterprise NHL Premier Passer

Ticketmaster NHL Save Streak

Gatorade NHL Puck Control

SAP NHL Hardest Shot

Honda NHL Accuracy Shooting

With some new names attending their first All Star Game, it’s going to be fun seeing who will be competing in which event and the victors.  My picks for each would be Connor McDavid for Fastest Skater as he has won it the last two years.  I’m going with Giroux for Premier Passer and you gotta go with Fleury for the Save Streak.  Johnny All Star is taking home Puck Control.  After that slash, Keith Yandle for Hardest Shot and always take Sidney Crosby in an Accuracy Shooting competition.

As for the All Star Game, the Metropolitan Division seems to be the favorite going into the weekend.  However, the Pacific Division has the players to put up back to back wins.  I’m going with the Metro versus the Pacific in the finals and as long as Letang is defending for the Metro, the Pacific is winning it all.

Here are the full rosters for each team.  The coaches leading from the benches this year are Jon Cooper, Paul Maurice, Todd Reirden, and Bill Peters.

Atlantic

Jack Eichel, Sabres

Nikita Kucherov, Lightning

Auston Matthews (C), Maple Leafs

Jeff Skinner, Sabres

David Pastrnak, Bruins

Steven Stamkos, Lightning

John Tavares, Maple Leafs

Thomas Chabot, Senators

Keith Yandle, Panthers

Jimmy Howard, Red Wings

Andrei Vasilevskiy, Lightning

Central

Patrick Kane, Blackhawks

Nathan MacKinnon (C), Avalanche

Ryan O’Reilly, Blues

Mikko Rantanen, Avalanche

Mark Scheifele, Jets

Blake Wheeler, Jets

Gabriel Landeskog, Avalanche

Miro Heiskanen, Stars

Roman Josi, Predators

Devan Dubnyk, Wild

Pekka Rinne, Predators

Metropolitan

Sebastian Aho, Hurricanes

Cam Atkinson, Blue Jackets

Mathew Barzal, Islanders

Sidney Crosby, Penguins

Claude Giroux, Flyers

Kyle Palmieri, Devils

John Carlson, Capitals

Seth Jones, Blue Jackets

Kris Letang, Penguins

Braden Holtby, Capitals

Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers

Pacific

Johnny Gaudreau, Flames

Clayton Keller, Coyotes

Connor McDavid (C), Oilers

Joe Pavelski, Sharks

Elias Pettersson, Canucks

Leon Draisaitl, Oilers

Brent Burns, Sharks

Drew Doughty, Kings

Erik Karlsson, Sharks

Marc-Andre Fleury, Golden Knights

John Gibson, Ducks

Where Did You Go?

As the title states, where the hell has Antonio Brown gone? Well we know where he is, but mentally where the hell is he? With his latest antics it leaves us all questioning, what are you thinking? His latest tweets have us all scratching and shaking our heads. The one tweet I saw earlier this week he stated that he is “keeping analysts busy and creating jobs for future analysts” then he proceeds to say business is booming. Well lately sir business has been bankrupt, you are burning every single bridge imaginable from throwing shade at the owner to the QB who has defended you to his furthest extent. There comes a point and time where talent is masked by pure arrogance and being self-centered. This town has embraced you with open arms throughout the years. In reality, they shouldn’t have as in his 9 years here he has yet to win a DAMN THING. What happened to the team first mentality and winning super bowls? When did those become an afterthought? Maybe you should have stayed off of those pizza hut commercials and focused on winning more than just regular season games.

Now I am not saying this tumultuous melt down of the organization solely falls on him, nothing is solely an individual’s fault. You have a coach that harbors terrible mentalities and he hires friends instead of the right man for the job. Let’s be honest people, why the hell was Joey Porter even on the team after his famous bar brawl on the south side? Any other organization would have canned his ass and sent him packing. Maybe the “Rooney way” is dead and we need to develop a new philosophy. Maybe we should use the cap space we have and spend it on a decent corner back or better yet get a MLB that’s not Vince Williams. I know this has gotten off track, I just want you to know I’m not biased whatsoever. It’s not just AB’s fault, it’s a toxic locker room and a way to start healing is to separate the wheat from the chaff and send AB packing. His most recent tweets have him arguing with Emmanuel Sanders and Bruce Arians basically calling them dumb along with calling them divas. In my closing statement I’m not asking you to feel any way, I’m just asking you to look at the evidence in front of you and see that this is not a booming business.

Thanks, Cody Potanko

Jake Guentzel

Jake Guentzel has always been good, but this season he has taken his game to another level.  Already, he has surpassed his goals total for a season and we’re just at the halfway point.  He was named NHL’s 3rd star of the week for this past week.   Not to mention his contract extension that made us all smile and seemed to kick start an offensive streak in him.

Guentzel is all over the ice: defending well in his own zone, putting pucks in the net, and providing support to his linemates.  Last year it seemed that he was always getting hit, hit hard, by opponents.  This season he takes hits better and doesn’t leave himself as exposed when on the boards and in corners.

He’s embraced his spot on the team and in the city of Pittsburgh.  We’re loving what he’s giving and can’t wait to see what the remainder of the season has in store for him.