Wednesday, August 12, 2015

She has a name, use it

Goalie Jenny Scrivens signed with the New York Riveters yesterday. Most NWHL player signings have been met with tweets and maybe a few articles. However the Scrivens signing was different, as her husband Ben is the Edmonton Oilers goalie, there was a lot of talk about them being a married couple in pro hockey.

Talking about a couple both being goalies is fine by me, in fact I tweeted both Scrivens goalies wishing them luck in the upcoming season.

There is however a line that was crossed between mentioning a relationship and defining someone by said relationship. At least one prominent hockey writer identified Jenny Scrivens only as "Ben Scrivens wife" in a tweet. That reminded me of when Amanda Kessel's career ending concussion was announced and I saw her called "Phil Kessel's sister". 

Jenny Scrivens and Amanda Kessel are both elite hockey players, they deserve to be named, not reduced to their relationship with a former Leaf.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Exploring Women's Hockey, CWHL and NWHL Overview

There are now two main women's hockey leagues, the Canadian based CWHL, which is more established but does not pay players, and the American based NWHL, which is entering its first season and will be the first North American women's hockey league to pay its players.

The CWHL has five teams, Boston Blades, Brampton Thunder, Calgary Inferno, Montreal Stars and Toronto Furies. Boston Blades beat Montreal Stars to win the 2015 Clarkson Cup (league championship).  More information about the CWHL can be found on their website

The NWHL has four teams entering their inaugural season, Boston Pride, Buffalo Beauts, Connecticut Whale and New York Riveters. The NWHL just conducted their first entry draft and Alex Carpenter went first overall to the New York Riveters. The complete draft order and more information about the NWHL can be found at their website

This is a brief overview of the leagues and I will be writing more in depth information about teams and players throughout the summer and season.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Awards Season

Scott Darling: Masterton Trophy Nominee
Corey Crawford: Jennings Trophy Winner (shared)
Carey Price: Jennings Trophy Winner (shared)
Carey Price: Vézina Trophy Finalist
Carey Price: Hart Trophy Finalist
PK Subban: Norris Trophy Finalist

Scott Darling appears to be a favorite for the Masterton, however unlike the other awards where we know the top 3 but not the order, all 30 teams submitted a Masterton nominee for their team. In the past four years, Darling has become sober and worked his way from the SPHL to his hometown NHL team via the ECHL, the CHL (has since merged with the ECHL) and the AHL. Less than a season removed from the ECHL, he picked up 3 of the 4 required wins for the Blackhawks to advance to the second round of the NHL playoffs.

Corey Crawford and Carey Price shared the Jennings Trophy for goalie(s) with 25 or more games played for the team(s) allowing the fewest goals (the games played minimum is why Scott Darling, Antti Raanta and Dustin Tokarski do not share the trophy with their starters). This is Crawford's second, the previous shared with Ray Emery in 2013, Carey Price's first and the Habs first since Patrick Roy in 1991-92.

After a career season, including breaking Ken Dryden and Jacques Plante's franchise record for single season wins, Carey Price is considered the favorite for both the Vézina (best goaltender) and the Hart (regular season MVP).

PK Subban is not a conclusive Norris favorite, he and fellow Finalist Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators appear to be in discussions the most, however there is not a conclusive favorite this year.

If the Canadiens advance to the Stanley Cup Finals, Carey Price is considered a favorite for Conn Smythe (Playoff MVP), however as of this writing it is only the last day of the first round so that is still very up in the air.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Where Canada's Olympic Goalies are a Year (and a bit) Later

Carey Price is still starting for the Montréal Canadiens and they're currently first in the Atlantic Division, Mike Smith is still starting for the Arizona Coyotes who have been eliminated from playoff contention, Roberto Luongo was traded to the Florida Panthers shortly after the Olympics and they're six points out of playoff position.

Shannon Szabados practiced for the Oilers when they were dealing with injuries, then signed with the SPHL Columbus Cottonmouths. In her first full pro season, Szabados has a 13-8-1 record (as of 3/13/15) and the Cottonmouths are 2nd in the SPHL. Szabados is the first female player in the SPHL, which is a tier below the ECHL in the hierarchy of pro hockey. A former SPHL player made the NHL for the first time this season (the Blackhawks' Scott Darling).

Charline Labonté came out shortly after the Olympics and she plays for the CWHL Montréal Stars. Geneviève Lacasse plays for the Boston Blades, also of the CWHL. In the 2015 Clarkson Cup Final, Labonté's Stars played Lacasse's Blades and the Blades won.

While the CWHL season concluded with the Blades' Clarkson Cup win, the SPHL season is still ongoing. You can view the SPHL schedule here: .

Sunday, March 8, 2015

On Blackhawks Goaltending

The Blackhawks starting goalie, Corey Crawford recently took fourth place in franchise wins (behind only first ballot Hall of Famers Tony Esposito, Glenn Hall and Ed Belfour), yet when goaltender Scott Darling was recently signed to a much deserved two year contract extension shortly before the NHL trade deadline there were calls for Crawford's head on social media.

The Blackhawks are in a very similar position to where they were in 1992 in regards to goaltending, a veteran climbing in franchise wins standings (Ed Belfour then, Corey Crawford now) and two capable rookies competing for the backup spot (Jimmy Waite (yes, the now goaltending coach) and Dominik Hašek (you may have heard of him)).

How things played out in 1992 (with Bob Pulford and Bill Wirtz running the Hawks and Ed Belfour's personality coming into play) was this: Belfour and Hašek split a deep playoff run before falling to the likes of Mario Lemieux and Jaromír Jágr in the Stanley Cup Finals who swept the series to win their second straight Cup. After the playoffs, Belfour felt threatened by the play of Hašek, who had been a complete unknown until that point, and went to management giving them a "he goes or I go" ultimatum. Hašek was shipped off to Buffalo, both goalies went on to Hall of Fame careers, meeting in the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals as a Star and a Sabre.

Blackhawks management in 1992 opted not to trade their starting goaltender and instead traded the backup who was competing for minutes. Belfour was later traded to San Jose when he felt threatened by a different backup. 

Corey Crawford has proven he can win, he is forth in franchise wins behind the aforementioned Belfour, Hall and Esposito. Scott Darling and Antti Raanta are rookies, there is no telling what their ceiling is. Sometimes young goalies who get shipped somewhere else flourish (Hašek in Buffalo, Hall (came from Detroit) and Esposito (came from Montréal) in Chicago) but other times their play is more average or above average (Niemi, the Blackhawks 2010 Cup Winner, in San Jose). 

Red Wings fans in 1957, Canadiens fans in 1969 and Blackhawks fans in 1992 weren't expecting to lose a future Hall of Famer, however those are the rare cases where a young goaltender who showed signs of promise actually did work out. I do not know examples for the reverse because goalies changing due to the surroundings is very common, just look at Devan Dubnyk or Ray Emery the past few seasons.

I trust that Stan Bowman, and his support staff, including his father Scotty, who coached one of the greatest goalies every to play the game in Ken Dryden, know how to evaluate the current situation with three NHL caliber goalies, and if history is any indication, their plans do not include trading Corey Crawford. In fact, I can only recall two times a goalie was traded at the peak of his career when he was high in franchise wins: Ed Belfour (3rd in franchise wins) from Blackhawks to Sharks in 1997 and Patrick Roy (2nd in franchise wins) from Canadiens to Avalanche in 1995. In both cases the goalie had off ice issues with the team. There is no indication Crawford has any off ice issues that impact his play.

I cannot say that Corey Crawford will be in the Hockey Hall of Fame one day, though his numbers are pointing in that direction, however he is a proven winner and the veteran that is needed to mentor young goalies such as Scott Darling and Antti Raanta.

Friday, January 2, 2015

#TeuvoTime trending in Chicago: is hype good for prospects

Teuvo Teräväinen was recently recalled from the Rockford IceHogs due to an injury to Kris Versteeg in the Winter Classic. Typically, when a player is recalled due to another player's injury, the focus is on the injured player, however the Blackhawks have seen the focus placed on the recalled player twice this season.

The second time Corey Crawford was injured this season, Scott Darling was recalled from the Rockford IceHogs, like he had been during the previous injury. Darling had been a steady force in net during his first brief stint with the Blackhawks and there were fans ready for his return. When Darling continued to post good numbers in the Indian Head people began calling for him to stay in Chicago. Most of those fans suggested that Antti Raanta be sent to Rockford, however, several fans, especially those who had previously expressed their displeasure with Crawford's goaltending, suggested that the Blackhawks trade Crawford and keep Darling.

Darling had no prior NHL experience when he was recalled due to Crawford's injury. Crawford has a Jennings Trophy, a Stanley Cup and most recently an All Star selection. Additionally, Crawford ranks fifth in franchise wins, second in franchise goals against average and first in franchise save percentage. Suggesting that the Blackhawks trade the 30 year old proven veteran in favor of a 26 year old rookie sounds bizarre by any standards, yet is commonly suggested on social media whenever Crawford loses a game.

Teuvo Teräväinen is one of the most hyped Blackhawks prospects. He was the Blackhawks first round pick in 2012 (23rd overall) and is in his first season in North America after three seasons in Liiga (Finland's top league). When it was announced that he was coming over to North America, some Hawks fans were expecting him to make the Blackhawks, however he was sent to Rockford following training camp to adjust to the North American game. When Patrick Sharp was injured, and later when Jeremy Morin was traded, Joakim Nordström got the call. Now that Kris Versteeg was injured with Nordström already on the Hawks roster, Teräväinen got the call.

The same afternoon and evening Teräväinen's recall was announced #TeuvoTime started trending on Chicago Twitter. Most prospect recalls get barely a mention, this one got a trending hashtag. My fear is that Blackhawks fans will be quick to judge Teräväinen's game. He is a 20 year old in his first North American season, he will not automatically move up a very deep Blackhawks forward corps. It is far too early to judge if he will be a star or a bust, but given draft position and and reaction to his recall, he will be judged by Blackhawks fans in those terms before his stint in Chicago is complete.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Combining Interests: Knitting and Crochet with Hockey

The obvious tie between hockey and knitting and crochet is that hockey sweaters were originally knit wool sweaters, and instead of buying replica sweaters from a store many mothers knitted them for their children. I saw wool sweaters for every Original 6 team and several more Blackhawks ones at the Blackhawks Convention, and they were clearly wool hockey sweaters.

Another less obvious connection is goalies wearing toques. A recent example of a goalie wearing a toque is Jonathan Bernier at the 2014 Winter Classic, wearing a machine knit team toque over his mask. Goalies wearing toques had a much earlier start, out of practicality. Jacques Plante wore hand knitted toques most of his career, starting from when he was a boy playing pond hockey and continuing until he made the NHL. The then Canadiens head coach banned his toques because they were not official uniform. Plante continued to knit throughout the rest of his life even though he was banned from wearing toques during games and practices.
Québec Citadelles team photo Plante in hand knit toque