Yes, I've taken some time off, for vacation and for personal reasons. But, it's not like the hockey world has ground to a halt since we last got together...
Stanley Cup Finals: The NHL playoffs have finally come down to one series, Boston vs. Vancouver. Now, I know that some of you think that since this is a blog primarily about a Western Conference team, that we should all be sheeple, and root for the Canucks. Well, you're wrong. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. A lot of people in the West are true believers in the theory of 'ABV' (Anyone But Vancouver) and really are hoping the Bruins will come back in the series, but the way that the 'Nucks have clawed, scratched, and bitten (Alex Burrows) their way to a 2-0 lead in the series, there is precious little time left to stop the parade on Granville Street in ten days' time. I still hope that justice will prevail, and the Bruins can pull it off, but it just doesn't look like they can.
Minnesota Wild coaching search: This has been more secretive than the hit on Osama Bin Laden. Hopefully it will be as successful. Is Chuck Fletcher waiting for the Houston Aeros season to end in order to offer the job to Mike Yeo? Or are they waiting until the Stanley Cup Finals to end, in order to announce the new coach to the public when they can get a bigger bang for the buck, as it where? The NHL draft is in less than 3 weeks. Wild fans hope the team has their act together, no matter what happens. And, speaking of the NHL Draft...
NHL Draft June 24 & 25, at the 'X': The draft is, indeed, looming; can the Wild get better as fast as they need to thru the draft? Or, will they be forced to the trade market in order to get better as fast as their fan base (and their ownership) need them to? With their most glaring need (and their single biggest potential help) deciding to stay one more season in Europe, will they draft a center who might be able to help them right away? Or will they continue to 'restock the larder' in Houston, despite the success of the Aeros this season?
Free Agency Day, July 1st: Will the Wild be buyers? Or sellers? Or will they just stand pat, after the success in Houston with the kids this spring? Yes, the Aeros are an AHL roster, so there are some players who will not go to the next level. But the fact is several of them will indeed, make the big club in St. Paul in the next 3-4 seasons, so do you plan for that? Do you plan based on what you currently have at the NHL level? Or, do you blow it up, and let the new coach start over? Many, many decisions to be made. And, not a lot of time in which to make them.
NHL back to Winnipeg: Good move or move too long in coming? Looking at the facts, the NHL just turned an albatross of a franchise (sorry, Blueland; no one cared, especially the fractured ownership) into one of the biggest success stories of the upcoming season. 45 guaranteed sellouts, and that makes everyone in hockey happy. Yes, the MTS Centre will be the NHL's smallest arena, but after True North Sports & Entertainment gets by the opening season jitters, there will be an expanded arena in time. Not a new one, just an expanded one. They already have plans. All they need is for the Board of Governors to approve the sale and move (13,000 season tickets in five days? 8,100 in 17 minutes? Sounds like they have support up there) and then bring the season on. The (insert name here) Jets/Moose/Falcons/Whatevers will be ready. The fans will definitely be ready. Now, about that January c-c-cold wind, howling thru Portage and Main...
For Atlanta, too bad, so sad, second chance you once had. Only making the playoffs once (and losing in four straight to the Rangers) didn't really help the bottom line, either. Throw in the fickle nature of Atlanta pro sports fans, and there was a recipe for disaster, especially after Ted Turner left AOL Time Warner and the new ownership wasn't keen on owning three sports franchises in the Capitol of the New South. They kept the right one (the Braves) and spun off the others to the Atlanta Spirit group, whose members don't exactly get along with each other, to the delight of law firms all over the Peach State.
And will I be going to the first game in the MTS Centre that the Minnesota Wild play in Winnipeg? Yes. I wouldn't miss it. (Did you REALLY have to ask that question? Really??)
Enjoy the summer, folks. We'll talk again soon. -- WRT
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