Good Luck Leafs Fans

It’s been an interesting week in the NHL—realignment was finalized from an owners stand point and the NHLPA is not too happy they haven’t had their say in the matter; an interesting article in the Globe and Mail has sparked some debate over national anthems; Artem Anismov proved Avery isn’t the only douche on the Rangers; and of course we finally saw the Maple Leafs sold to put an end to months of speculations.

Realignment

Well we discussed this briefly with speculation last week, so now that the owners are behind it and the NHLPA is upset this could become a tool used in the upcoming labour negotiations to avoid another work stoppage in the NHL. The owners feel it’s done while the players want their say to ensure fairness of play and relieve travel concerns. One point that came up on our podcast that I haven’t heard anyone else talk about was the toll teams in Conference “A” will have to face traveling into cities like Denver and Calgary and the increase in elevation. While I don’t feel it’s much different then this year and there is really no way to avoid it, it does give an advantage to a team like Colorado when so much emphasis is put on conference standings.

That of course brings me to the biggest sticking point for most in the breakdown is two conferences of 8 and two conferences of 7. You want a simple easy way to make this fair for everyone and ensure that the top 16 teams in the league make the playoffs while still promoting rivalries to sell the game? Steal a page out of the CFL’s book and use a crossover rule. If any 5th place team has a greater record then a 4th place team in any of the other 3 conferences then they will take over that playoff spot. Or it could be a one game winner takes the playoff spot scenario. Bottom line is that would create a balance that would most likely satisfy the NHLPA and would put an end to what many fans have noticed the past few years when 10th in the West would be 7th in the East.

Also it would create the possibilities that you could have a Stanley Cup final with two division rivals, which would mean a Calgary vs Edmonton final could happen in the NHL as well as the CFL.

Now there was also a lot of talk how both Columbus and Detroit would prefer to move into Eastern conference divisions and while playing in an entirely Central division will be easier on overall travel for them, the league could have easily moved one or both of them into Conference “C” or “D” and in the case of both teams could have slid someone like Phoenix into Conference “B” to promote the natural rivalry that exists with our Winnipeg Jets.

They aren’t and to me that speaks volumes and explains a lot about the NHL’s decisions and why they kept the NHLPA out of the discussion. The NHL while they would never admit this publicly is obviously considering the fact that in the next few years there might be a team in Quebec and one in Southern Ontario. That could easily happen as early as next season should the unfortunate happen and an Owner is not found for the Coyotes and they are forced to relocate.

The move to transfer Phoenix into an Eastern city would be an easy realignment popping them into Conference “C” with Toronto and Montreal when if you didn’t have that concern Detroit would probably already be there. Meanwhile if it’s the expansion route that ends up happening and lets just say five years down the road there are teams in Quebec and a second in Southern Ontario then moving Buffalo out of Conference “C” and plugging them into Conference “D” with the other New York area teams would only make sense.

Trust me folks when I say this realignment has a lot more to do with what they are not telling us then what they are, and it’s a great sign for Quebec and Southern Ontario to get franchises one way or the other in the near future.

For Winnipeg fans it will make it harder for them to be a playoff team on a yearly basis. In a Conference with Detroit (We saw what they can do last night, but they still suck) and Chicago (Also lost our only game against them this year), one can expect that two spots are virtual locks. That leaves the Jets to fight it out with the likes of Minnesota (First in the West currently), Nashville (Currently 8th in the West but has made the playoffs the last two seasons), St. Louis Blues (that appear to finally be coming into their own with Hitchcock behind the bench) and the Dallas Stars (Currently 2nd in the West). the only team that you wouldn’t worry about is Columbus and a team with Rick Nash and Jeff Carter as their building blocks could come up to bite you in the butt at any time as the Jets have also already experienced this year.

No conference is going to be easy to make the playoffs in, but the teams the Jets have drawn and their current performance against teams that will be in their division (0-3-0) is not good or promising for Jets fans next season. With a matchup at home against Minnesota this week that game will be a little bit more than just two points for this year but a vote of confidence that they will be able to compete in their new conference next year. Including that game the Jets only play their new Conference mates in 5 more games this year (Minnesota twice, St. Louis, Nashville and Dallas once).

Anthems

Earlier this week Paul Walde wrote an article about fans altering the National Anthems at games. He goes on to talk about how some fan yelled “True North” loudly at the first preseason game and it stuck. If you’re going to write an article you might want to do some research because that’s not how that tradition of respect started. Way back before the first game there was a facebook group started asking fans to join in to show respect to the ownership group that brought NHL hockey back to our city. Hell we even mentioned that in our series about New and Old Traditions.

So many things bother me about this article and the above aside there is no mention of perhaps the most controversal anthem alteration in any pro sport, one that we witnessed first hand when in Chicago filming JET FUEL. The Blackhawk faithful don’t shout out a part of the song or change a word, they simply get loud and virtually drown out the anthem. If any city was to be considered disrespectful to the National Anthem it would be Chicago but there was no mention of this at all in the story.

No the author continues to focus on cities that shout out a word or two louder than the rest. Give me a freaking break! None of these are disrespectful and just goes to show you that some people will make an issue out of anything. Chicago isn’t disrespecting their anthem they are honouring it in their own way. Jets fans aren’t making fun of the anthem they are showing respect for it and the people who got them an NHL team again.

When fans in Calgary yell out “C” and “Red” they aren’t making fun of the US anthem they are using it to create excitement.

One part of this article really bothers me;

All of this bastardizing of the national anthems bothers people like Mary Kennedy, an associate professor of music education at the University of Victoria who has done studies on singing anthems.

“I really feel we should sing O Canada respectfully and joyfully,” Kennedy said. She added that changing or shouting out specific words takes away from the importance of the song.

Are you kidding Ms. Kennedy? Yelling a word or two louder than the rest is showing respect and it’s certainly creating joy. I’m pretty sure more people pay attention to the anthem when they are trying to figure out when to yell louder than if they were just mumbling along.

Winnipeg has always been known for singing along loudly to the National Anthem and now that they sing “True North” louder they are being disrespectful and bastardizing the anthem? The only thing that is disrespectful if that people like Mary Kennedy are out their looking for something to bitch about. Remove the flag pole from your back side, slide down the pole and try criticizing some of those musicians out there that have to use a swear word as every second word of the song.

As for NHL and other sports fans reading this don’t let a few sour pusses dictate how we show respect for our anthem and our teams.

Anismov the Ass

I don’t even know where to begin with this one. Dude it’s your fifth goal of the year! What were you thinking? I’m all for having a little bit of fun but act like you’ve been there before man. As soon as this happened the instant comparisons were being made to some of the other outrageous celebrations of the past. Teemu Selanne’s duck hunter, Alexander Ovechkin’s too hot to handle and more. Well you know what the difference was? It wasn’t their fifth goal of the year! Did you break a rookie goal scoring record? Did you score your fiftieth goal of the year? Did you score an overtime winner in the playoffs to win game 7? No then put the puck in the net, put your hands up and go take a seat on the bench.

Don’t get me wrong I think the NHL does need to lighten up a little bit and have some more fun and while many didn’t like Ovechkin’s celebration a few years ago I thought it was great. But those type of celebrations should only be for big moments and shouldn’t be scripted out in advance like Ovie’s actually was. One of the best celebrations has to be Theo Fleury in game six, 1991 vs the Edmonton Oilers in overtime to force game seven.

Now that’s a celebration because it was raw, it was unscripted and it was pure emotion of an emotional goal. What Ansimov did was not only stupid and ignorant it was also classless and a cry for attention. You want to get noticed do it for the right reasons not for being an ass. I guess Sean Avery has started to wear off on his teammates. I only wish that they had a mike on Torterllo so we could have heard him chew him out in the dressing room afterwards.

To be honest I’m surprised Torts hasn’t demanded they trade him away.

MLSE Sold

Thank god this is over and done with so we can stop hearing about if they are for sale or not. Which is interesting with this deal is of course that competitors each own an equal share of the team. I’m sorry but if anyone believes this is better for the team then what they had with the teachers and the board they’ve got to give their head a shake. The focus will never be on the team but will be on who gets to broadcast what.

I’m glad I’ve never been a Leafs fans because this situation has disaster written all over it. Rogers and Bell will never be able to agree on anything long-term with each trying to get the advantage on the other. This is equivalent to your divorced parents living together for the benefit of their kids while sleeping with other people. They’ll try to put on a good face in front of the kid but behind closed doors look out.

Good luck Leafs fans, I hope you’re ready to be exploited… Oh wait I guess you should be used to that by now. I hope that one day you can get an owner that actually cares more about winning than profit, or broadcast rights.

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Jeff Stevenson is a co-founder of winnipegwhiteout.com and co-host of the popular Jets Hockey Podcast. He grew up in Winnipeg, MB and became very passionate about sports, hockey and the Jets. Now Jeff is proud and honored to help bring news and information about the Winnipeg Jets to fans around the world.

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