Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Home Improvement

This is PNC Arena, home to the Carolina Hurricanes. Last season, the arena was also home to the worst drawing NHL crowd, as they drew just over 12,000 people on average, a full thousand less than the next worst team in the Arizona Coyotes. On Monday, it was also home to a postponed game that wiped out the Hurricanes' match-up with the Detroit Red Wings. The reason? According to NHL.com, the following was discovered:

The Hurricanes discovered a broken seal on the main compressor that runs the ice chiller at 6 p.m. ET, resulting in the ice temperature rising from the game-time standard of 21 degrees to about 30 degrees, president Don Waddell said. They initially postponed warmups by 30 minutes to fix the seal, which was leaking Freon, but the temperature did not drop quickly enough to allow the game to be played.
In case you're asking the last home game prior to Monday, it was two days prior, when the Hurricanes beat the Sabres in a shootout. As for the problems of the ice, this is something that the people who maintain the arena should have been on top of, seeing as the Hurricanes are the only pro sports tenant in the arena.  On any level of hockey, this is poor in terms of teams not doing due diligence to ensure that both teams are playing on a surface that is safe enough, but given that this was an NHL team who failed here, it not only shows a lack of preparation on their part, as well as the arena maintenance crew, but also puts those who traveled into Raleigh from other places out of money and possibly a chance to root on their team.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Take it Outdoors

Now, that all of the teams participating in the outdoor games have their uniforms sorted out, it would be fair to assess each one, beginning with the Centennial Classic.

The designs you see for both the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings are what they will be wearing for the Centennial Classic at BMO Field, home to both Toronto FC and the Toronto Argonauts. The Maple Leafs went with elements of their past incarnations for their uniform design. The stripe that runs through the middle was previously on the Pats sweaters while the Arenas' T will be found on the breezers. Meanwhile, the Red Wings kept it rather simple, with only a silver stripe on the arms that also features the years they won the Stanley Cup. Though Toronto has the better sweater design, both teams earn high marks for going in different directions when it comes to the collar.

Up next is the Winter Classic match between the St. Louis Blues and the Chicago Blackhawks slated for January 2 at Busch Stadium. Of the teams participating in the outdoor games, the Blues have the best looking sweaters, edging out Toronto for that distinction. It's as close to a throwback as it gets, as much of the design was inspired by the team's first years in the NHL. If the Blues' design was the best, then the Blackhawks would be on the opposite spectrum. Clearly, playing in as many outdoor games as they have has shown that the idea well has run dry for them. If there was ever a case for limiting how many outdoor games you can play in a specific time period, you can point to the Blackhawks for that.

Last up is the Stadium Series, and the participants in that matchup are the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers. The Penguins unveiled their look a few weeks ago, and certainly, going gold was a wise decision, as was the idea of having the triangle encircle the captaincy or alternate designation. The patch on the left is a nod to the team's four Stanley Cups, and the side numbers are on the shoulders. The sweater loses points for the numbering, though, as it rips off the World Cup North American team template.

A few days ago, the Flyers unveiled their design, and going black on their sweaters isn't the worst idea, but having black numbers and lettering is a bad idea, even with the orange nameplate and white outlining on the numbers. The Flyers would have been better served with white numbering and lettering.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Shaking Things Up in Colorado?

It hasn't exactly been a good year for the Colorado Avalanche, as their defense has been a problem for a few years and counting now. Between Patrick Roy leaving the team weeks before the season started and continued underachieving, things are not looking good for the Avs, short or long term. Their immediate past hit rock bottom yesterday, as they surrendered 10 goals in a 10-1 loss to Montreal. That loss now leaves them in last place in the Western Conference. So, what to do to fix the Avs? This would be where I put on my General Manager's hat, and that means I have a few ideas.

  • One of the greatest follies of the Greg Sherman/Joe Sacco regime (you know, the one before Joe Sakic/Patrick Roy) was handing Gabriel Landeskog the captain's C during the lockout shortened season of 2013. Not everyone can handle those responsibilities at 20 years old, and certainly, Landeskog has proven that he's no Sidney Crosby or Jonathan Toews (the jury is still out on Connor McDavid). Going a year with four alternates would give the Avs a better idea of who's ready for the captaincy, and should it be Landeskog, that year of re-establishing himself would be beneficial.
  • Trading someone from the "core" group. Semyon Varlamov has been brilliant at times, but he's also been bad at times, and while much of that is a reflection of the team in front of him, he also should be shouldering some of the blame, too. Throw in Calvin Pickard showing that he's ready for a starting job, and that should spell the end of Varlamov's time in Colorado. Jarome Iginla deserves better than what he's been saddled with in his three seasons in Colorado, and they would be wise to shop him before the deadline to a contender and get something in return.
  • Firing Jared Bednar as head coach would be unwise, as he didn't have the benefit of a full off-season to implement his system. Doing so would further set the Avs back and ruin any front office credibility that Joe Sakic may have left.
  • Erik Johnson has been the best of a sorry defensive lot, but he's also been hurt in almost every season he's played in Colorado. Trading him may hurt in the short term, but there's something to be said for getting something for a player while there's still value, and Johnson's value isn't going to be any better at this point.
Of course, the real problem of the Avs is the same one that befalls the other Denver franchises other than the NFL's Broncos: ownership. Until that changes, it may not matter what moves the Avs make to try and right the ship.