Top 5 Mondays!

Introducing a new feature to the CHE Blog, each Monday I’ll post a Top 5 _____ to get the week started off right.  To celebrate the first full NHL season in a couple of years, we’ll start with:

Top 5 Exciting NHL Events in 2013/14!

Image

1. Sochi 2014

I know, it’s not exactly an NHL sanctioned event but there will be plenty of NHLer’s in attendance and it’s going to be amazing yet again.  One simply has to turn on TSN to watch Bob Mackenzie and James Duthie argue over which of the amazing centermen is going to snag that 14th forward position and you’ll quickly realize it’s the top hockey event on this years calendar.  There’s just so many story lines:  Will the big ice be a factor?  Can Canada defend on foreign soil or will is be Torino (7th place finish) all over again?  Will Russia be able finally be able to win it’s first Gold medal in the post Soviet era after literally dominating the event from 1954-1990 (19 Golds, 7 Silvers) and their recent successes at both the World Jr and World Championships?   Will a team comprised of mostly KHL players (only 26 rostered Russians in NHL this year) be able to compete against the NHL’s best?  Or will the Swedes, Fins or Americans be the eventual winners?  It’s a tough call, but one thing that’s for sure is that the hockey is going to be amazing, like a bunch of All-Star games but players, coaches and fans actually care, watch and cheer.

Image

2. Winter Classic!

After being cancelled last season due to the lockout, the New Year’s Day game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings at Michigan Stadium at the University of Michigan.  Finally we’ll be able to watch the best team in the league (Detroit) play the team all of my friends and family painstakingly cheer for year after year, and so will the 110,000 lucky fans in the stands.  Hoping to build off of last years success, the Maple Leafs are looking to show they really were just one, jaw dropping implosion away from making it to the finals.  Having both teams compete regularly in the same divisions will definitely heat up the intensity and it’s looking like it will be the best Winter Classic yet.

There’s also the new Stadium Series at the end of January to look forward to but certainly not with the same hype. There will be the Kings vs. Ducks at Dodger Stadium (good luck with the ice), Rangers vs. Devils followed by Rangers vs. Islanders at Yankee Stadium, and Penguins vs. Blackhawks at Soldier Field.

Image

3. Red Wings in the Eastern Conference

If you paid any attention to point number 2 you’ll know the Detroit Red Wings are definitely my favorite hockey team in the league, and have been ever since the imperial reign of Ken Holland began in 1997.  That said, I’m definitely not alone in my excitement to watch the mighty Wings battle it out against Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Boston on a regular basis is going to be completely different than hopefully catching them battle the Anaheim Ducks at 11pm EST.  There’s going to be four original 6 teams in the same conference and even the perennial underachieving Maple Leafs seem to be getting their act together and I’m extremely amped to finally watch Detroit on Hockey Night in Canada.  I mean common, look how much love Grapes shows them in the playoffs!

Image

4. John Tortorella in Vancouver

In a move that almost no one saw coming, the Vancouver Canucks kicked off their off season acquisitions by bringing John Tortorella in to motivate the team of fledgling super stars.  Tort’s is a bit of a mystery to me.  He seemed to be able to get the most out of his star players in Tampa in 2004 when they won the cup, but all reports out of NYC were that the Rangers best players just wouldn’t perform for him.  When you’ve got Brad Richards in the press box as a healthy scratch in an elimination game in the playoffs you know that something is not right.  He earned $12 million last season and sat out the last game.  Obviously things didn’t work out in NYC and Tortorella was let go pretty swiftly, but having him land in Vancouver was on no one’s radar.  The Canucks and especially the Sedin brothers have often been labelled as soft, adversity avoiding superstars.  It’s going to be very interesting to see how they respond to Tortorella’s coaching and communication style, it literally could go 100% one way or the other.

Image

5. Can Sidney Crosby play an Entire Season?

Believe it or not, it’s been 4 years since Sid the Kid played an entire NHL season, and the last time he did, he won the Rocket Richard Trophy, Stanley Cup and Olympic Gold.  Building off his success in 2010, Crosby started the next season playing and scoring at an era defying pace that included a 25 game point streak scoring 50 points during that time.  Then BOOM! (literally)  The leagues best player went down with a concussion and almost single handedly opened the hockey worlds eyes to the dangers of concussions.  All reports coming from the Crosby camp say he’s 100% healthy and stronger than he’s ever been, and though it’s unlikely he can match his heroics from the Vancouver Olympics, it’s the first time since 2010 that there aren’t any health questions coming into the season.

There are many other things to get excited about this hockey season, but I think this top 5 is proof enough that it’s going to be a season to remember.

Graydon Crowley

Canadian Hockey Enterprises