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

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.

NHL Countdown: Tonight is the Night!

First things first: Tom Wilson was finally suspended for a reasonable amount of time for his offense.  Although, I don’t see how he is allowed to continue to play in the NHL, or why he would want to.  As the league mentioned, Wilson has not made any attempt to adjust his playing style.  I don’t understand how he would want to play in a league he clearly does not respect.  It’s not just an isolated incident or directed to just one team or player, he intentionally throws illegal hits at every opponent that dares to skate near him.  Maybe this will be a wakeup call for him to change his game.  Hopefully he’ll decide the NHL is no longer for him and move on.

Sadly, the Calgary Flames started the season with a loss while going 0 for 7 on the powerplay.  It seems that this is a recurring issue as they draw penalties left and right (many thanks to Johnny Gaudreau) but they just can’t seem to capitalize on them.  It wasn’t all bad though with Mony back, feeling and looking good on the ice.  Also, with the freshly stitched “A” on his chest, Tkachuk put a tally in the goal column last night.

Finishing up the preseason yesterday morning, Haie put up a good fight against the Oilers, who ultimately won in overtime.  It seemed that the Oilers would dominate after the first minutes of play, but Haie came back and their rookie goalie made some big saves in his league debut.

With a quick first goal to start the night, Comtois put the Ducks on the board in his league debut.  Not even Erik Karlsson on the blue line was enough to keep the Ducks from defeating the Sharks 5-2.

With the great John Tavares and Auston Matthews keeping his first game streak alive, the Toronto Maple Leafs topped the Canadiens 3-2 in overtime.

Tonight, the Pittsburgh Penguins are tasked with holding off the Capitals, who shut out the Bruins last night with an impressive 7-0 score.  I believe the Pens are ready for the task.  They know what to expect from the Capitals: a hard-hitting, fast-paced game with big goals and a lot of shots.

The Penguins’ lines are stronger than ever and hopefully Murray worked on his glove side during the offseason.  There’s a lot of talk about Sprong being placed on the fourth line, but I believe it’s the best place for him at this point in his career.  He didn’t have the strongest training camp and still has a lot of learning to do.  Being on that fourth line with Matt Cullen is the best opportunity for him to grow his game, gain some grit, and really show his work ethic.  Besides, who would you take off of the first line for him to play with Crosby?  Certainly not Hornqvist or Guentzel.  Hornqvist is ready to go and always lives up to his name and his game.  His net-front presence is unmatchable and compliments Crosby’s ability to get the puck to the front of the net.  Guentzel’s stickwork and passing skills work extremely well alongside Crosby as well and he has certainly earned his spot on the top line.  One last note, I fully believe that Chad Ruwhedel has earned his spot on the team and should be paired up with Maatta for opening night.

That’s all for now!  LETS GO PENS!!!!

NHL Countdown: Meet My Teams & Players

Teams:

Pittsburgh Penguins

I grew up a Penguins fan but didn’t start to seriously follow them until I was around 13 years old.  Since then they have won 3 Stanley Cups, made many playoff runs, and drafted/traded for some big names, a few that are still in Pittsburgh.  No matter what happens, I will die a Penguins fan (unless they ever hire John Tortorella as a coach then I’m jumping ship and losing all respect for the organization).

Calgary Flames

I didn’t start following the Calgary Flames until Johnny Gaudreau joined them after his time at Boston College.  It also worked in their favor that they had Deryk Engelland at the time.  Since then, the organization has grown on me and I have liked the majority of their players, trades, and acquisitions.  My favorite that occurred over this past summer was trade that brought Noah Hanifin to Calgary.

Carolina Hurricanes

Jordan Staal being a Pittsburgh Penguins was ultimately what starting my being a fan of the Canes.  Through Jordan, I started to follow Eric and in turn the Hurricanes.  Jeff Skinner kept me a fan of the Hurricanes along with Jordan being traded to them for Sutter and the youngest Staal, Jared, playing for their AHL affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers.  I have not been a fan of their trades recently as I don’t believe they are smart moves for the organization.  I would hate to be Sebastien Aho, playing on a team with high expectations for you that isn’t trying to put together a winning team around you.

Boston College Golden Eagles

While not an NHL team, the BC Eagles are why I’m a fan of many NHL players.  I started following BC when they played in Robert Morris University’s 1st annual Three Rivers Classic.  Johnny Gaudreau, Patrick Brown, and Kevin Hayes impressed me with their on-ice presence and skill and I’ve been following them and the Eagles ever since.

 

Players:

Olli Maatta:  He is the epitome of Finland’s development program, has overcome so much in his young career, and continues to improve his game.

Jordan Staal:  J. Staal was an easy Penguin to like.  He was always a dependable third-line center that produced and could kill a penalty.

Sergei Gonchar:  Gonchar was my very first “favorite player” and Penguin.  I don’t know why I initially started to like him but his well-rounded game play is why I continued to follow him even after he left the ‘Burgh.  He wasn’t gone for too long though and very few people were happier than I was to see him hired on as a defensive coach.

Johnny (Hockey) Gaudreau:  Johnny Hockey loves the game and plays it well.  His work ethic is what made me notice him at the Three Rivers Classic.  He was all over the ice while still complementing his teammates and setting them up for opportunities.  Despite his accomplishments and phenomenal collegiate turned NHL career, he remains humble.

Marc Andre Fleury:  I have never, nor will ever, understand how any fan of hockey can hate on Fleury.  The guy is a magician on the ice, a trickster with his teammates, and the ultimate family man.  I will forever be thankful for all Fleury and his family have for the city of Pittsburgh both on and off the ice.

Beau Bennett:  Beau Bennett had such promise, but his injuries definitely had a significant impact on his career.  I liked his game play with the Penguins, now I admire how he has acclimated to his changed career path and his sense of humor/personality through it all.

Noah Hanifin:  Hanifin is a BC alum and an up-and-coming defenseman in the league.  I enjoyed watching him on the ice for BC and the Canes and I can’t wait to see what he will bring to Calgary this year.

Conor Sheary:  aka Lil’ Conor worked hard every second he was on the ice and rarely lost a battle in the corner boards despite being quite smaller than some of his opponents.  I’ll miss seeing #43 in a Penguins jersey.

Honorable Mentions: Jeff Skinner, Matt Cooke, Deryk Engelland, Brian Gibbons, Matt Niskanen as a Penguin, Jayson Megna, Cam Atkinson, Eric Staal, Brandon Sutter, William Nylander, Kevin Hayes, Bobby Farnham, Dustin Jeffrey, Chris Kunitz, Pascal Dupuis, Alex Tuch.

 

NHL Countdown: Is it October Yet?

We’ve been saying it since the end of last season: Is it October yet?  So, here are 10 reasons why it needs to be October already.

  1. Summer is great to see the players being people but, it’s time for them to be hockey players again.
  2. There is nothing like hockey season for hockey fans and we’re ready for it to be hockey season.
  3. Sooooo ready for hockey player antics. We can’t wait to see what the guys get up to this season and who will be the pranksters vs. the pranked.  Fleury needs to bring the fun to Vegas this year!
  4. We need something to do with our lives at 7pm ET every night. Starting in October we can watch hockey almost every night until June.
  5. Rivalries are real. It’s harder to hate on other teams and their fans when they’re off the ice doing charitable work and all.
  6. Perfect shirsey and jersey weather. Shirseys during the day, jerseys when the sun sets.
  7. On-ice bromances are back! Hockey provides the world with the best bromances, it’s a proven fact.
  8. All hockey starts up. Prospects are playing everywhere: AHL, ECHL, QMJHL, OHL, NAHL, IIHF, etc.
  9. We are one month closer to playoff hockey. No further explanation needed.
  10. Hockey apparel will be back in stores and who cares about football anyway?!