North Dakota cut its women’s hockey program in March, in one of the saddest and most stunning decisions to rock the sport at the collegiate level.
This was a hockey-mad university. This was a program that, on the day the news hit, was touring potential recruits through campus for next season. The issue, as it always is for sports that aren’t football and basketball, was money – it didn’t matter how many UND alumni played in the Olympics when the school faced a reported $1.3 million budget shortfall.
“When you see a school like North Dakota do what they’ve done, it is scary. But more than that, it’s heartbreaking,” said Katie Million, commissioner of Western Collegiate Hockey Association, where North Dakota played. “I’m just heartbroken for the student athletes that can’t continue their careers there and have to find new homes.”
It was a decision that angered the hockey community, and it was a decision that made the WCHA reconsider its own economic future. It may not always be the apocalyptic elimination of an entire program; it might be budget cutbacks that have a trickle-down effect to the conference as a whole.
With North Dakota out of the picture, the other WCHA schools – Bemidji State, Minnesota, Minnesota Duluth, Minnesota State, Ohio State, St. Cloud State and Wisconsin – would all have to shoulder a larger financial responsibility. Which is why Million decided the time was right to be proactive, and ask those who are most passionate about women’s hockey to help ensure its stability.
On Thursday, Million and the WCHA announced a crowdfunding initiative through RallyMe.com that allows supporters to make tax-deductible donations to the League. RallyMe is a crowdfunding site that’s been utilized by several “fringe” sports for funding, from USA Canoe and Kayak to USA Ultimate.
What makes RallyMe interesting: Donations to the WCHA can target specific areas of need, from hockey scholarships to league operations to purchasing the postseason championship trophy. People know exactly where their money is going.
When Million was named commissioner in Sept. 2016, she was surprised to find out that the WCHA was a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. “I was baffled that we hadn’t been taking advantage of that status, accepting tax deductible donations,” she said.
So she made it a priority to think outside the box and find ways to accept donations “should we find some passionate fans that would like to support us,” she said. Crowdfunding was the answer.
It’s not that the WCHA was in financial trouble. Million said there weren’t any specific shortfalls that needed immediate attention, outside of a student-athlete post-graduate scholarship that she hopes the RallyMe funding can save.
“It’s really more of an enhancement of what we do,” she said.
But the WCHA crowdfunding is also preemptive in case other situations like the North Dakota implosion happen. Not only does it build a dedicated base of donors who share a passion for the league and its member schools, but it can also help the other member schools with their individual budget concerns.
“Them departing our league helps our cause. We can use the help, instead of potentially seeing programs drop,” said Million.
“I look at it as us being proactive. Everybody’s budgets are tightening. Schools are getting less funding. We have to help however we can so that those finances they’re paying us to run the league can go back into their own programs, their own budgets, so that we have less of a burden on these member schools.”
From the professional leagues through the colleges, women’s hockey continues to fight for financial stability and substantial investment. Million believes that crowdfunding, especially for a not-for-profit league like the WCHA, can provide both.
“I’m a little baffled that other conferences don’t utilize the status,” she said.
If the WCHA succeeds, perhaps they will.
MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS
It is now widely acknowledged that the New York Rangers are no longer the team that we think about when we look back on their past several years.
Even within the organization itself, the front office acknowledges the need for a rebuild-on-the-fly, not that they’d ever be allowed to do a full-on, tear-it-down, tank-a-few-years demolition job. One wonders, then, what a rebuild on the fly actually looks like for this club, which for so long has had its success predicated almost entirely a good-ish offense and elite goaltending.
But the odds Henrik Lundqvist can be Henrik Lundqvist any more are now very much in doubt simply because he’s 35 and coming off what would be a rotten season by any standard, let alone his own lofty standard.
Last year, the fact that Antti Raanta played 30 games of .922 hockey is what kept the Rangers alive as a 100-point team; the club earned 34 points in his decisions, and two more in Magnus Hellberg’s two appearances (he played just 79 minutes).
But Raanta’s gone now, traded to Arizona, and replaced with Ondrej Pavelec, who’s a total wildcard in the crease. For some time now, the Rangers have been blessed with strong backup goaltending, but almost all of it was developed in-house. This is the first time in quite a while Lundqvist’s backup will be a UFA pickup, and if Mason does what Marty Biron did in the lockout-shortened season (.917) then that’s good for a backup. But that was also back when Lundqvist played the massive bulk of the Rangers’ minutes.
Lundqvist made just 57 appearances last season, down from 65 the year before, due in part to hip problems. Which, hey, a 35-year-old goalie, with Lundqvist’s kind of miles (19,300-plus minutes in a little more than a decade, plus playoffs, plus internationals), with a hip injury of any kind? That’s a major cause for concern.
And if Lundqvist isn’t effective, and Pavelec is even just pretty good, the odds this team misses the playoffs are strong. Of course, this could be a one-year blip on Lundqvist’s record too. The underlying numbers behind what made last year so ugly aren’t exactly encouraging, but this is arguably one of the five best goalies of all time, and he’s probably earned the benefit of the doubt even without taking his advanced age into account.
But the Rangers’ problems potentially go deeper than the net, which is nothing new. The defense is still a bit of a mess. McDonagh and Shattenkirk can certainly play, and Brendan Smith might be a little overpaid but that doesn’t diminish his strong middle-pairing capabilities. Brady Skjei seems promising. But what, exactly, is Anthony DeAngelo, who — whether you like it or not — was one of the cornerstones of the Raanta/Stepan trade? Tough to say. We know what Nick Holden and Marc Staal are, though: They’re bad. And if two of your defensemen are known-bad quantities, and another one is a total question mark, is that really what you need as you ostensibly keep trying to compete?
It’s just hard to see where the support comes from if the Rangers want to play up-tempo hockey. That’s also true in the forward group. Who are this team’s centers? Mika Zibanejad, Kevin Hayes, David Desharnais (oh yeah, they signed David Desharnais), maybe JT Miller? I dunno how far that gets you.
Zibanejad, by the way, is closing in on an arbitration date and probably wants a lot of money.
The loss of Derek Stepan was obviously a calculated one, but let’s not act like he isn’t a low-end No. 1 or elite No. 2. That’s tough to replace, and it seems like the Rangers didn’t even really try. They’re hoping young guys take a step this year, probably Miller in particular, but things are a little dicey here.
Not so on the wings, where the Rangers have plenty of guys who can play and, more importantly, can skate. I really like their winger group a lot pretty much up and down the roster.
Thing is, though, that this might be the Rangers’ last serious kick at the can as any sort of notable NHL team for a while. We know already that elite-level players just don’t hit unrestricted free agency, and the Rangers only have 11 — eleven! — players signed for 2018-19. Some of the people are are as yet unsigned include RFAs like Miller, Hayes, Skjei, and Jimmy Vesey; players they will have plenty of money and desire to re-sign. But going out the door are Rick Nash and Michael Grabner, guys that aren’t easy to replace. Couple that with a Lundqvist who will be another year older and a lot of the solid answers on this club over the past few years start to dry up quick.
Point is, it’s difficult to assess where the Rangers are headed. How much slack does Alain Vigneault, a good coach with a few unfortunate blind spots, have with management if this team starts to look like it might miss the playoffs? This isn’t exactly an easy division and you have to say the Rangers took a step back this summer. The odds that they lost 10 points or so in the standings aren’t significant, but one or two things go wrong and this starts looking like a non-competitive team in a hurry.
The bigger, overarching question is “What’s this club’s long-term plan in net,” especially since Lundqvist is signed for three seasons after the coming one at $8.5 million? Let’s acknowledge here their goaltending pipeline is stacked, but how much that helps the club in the next, say, three years is probably minimal.
The good news is that most of the good players already on the roster are in their mid- or late-20s, which buys them some time on the back end of a rebuild-on-the-fly. But it’s pretty reasonable to have a lot of concerns about this team’s chances to be anything other than a first-round bounce-out at best over the next two seasons.
Which, if you’re rebuilding — on-the-fly or otherwise — might not be that helpful. Picking in the mid-teens, whether you barely make the playoffs or barely miss them, doesn’t get you high-level talent. Last summer, Corey Pronman had the Rangers’ farm system as 28th in the league. You don’t improve on that much if you’re picking 16th, but you don’t get much better with a total talent sell-off. Which isn’t going to happen because that’s not what the Rangers do.
So it’s a tough situation overall, and it’s mostly because there might not be another choice for this franchise in particular.
MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS
Also, yesterday, my consolation birthday present arrived - a beautiful red patent leather Love Moschino tote bag (wow, there were three left in stock when I ordered mine and now there are none! I'm glad I got there in time!). During the whole epic search for a new bag, I coveted a red patent leather bag, but couldn't find one (or, rather, couldn't find one that was less than, like, $800 and while I'm profligate, I'm not that profligate), since I guess they aren't in style right now? Except it's red patent leather so I can't imagine how it could go out of style? But whatever. On a whim on Wednesday, I checked Zappo's to see if there were any available, and lo and behold, there it was. It's beautiful. It's big and kind of unwieldy (and unpleasantly sticky against the bare skin of my arm in the heat), but I don't care, because it's gorgeous.
Bosses 1 & 3 both admired it as I unpacked it from the box, and they were like, "Are you going to save it for special occasions?" and I said, "Hell no!" (note: I did not actually say "Hell no!" I just said, "no! I bought it so I could use it! Because it is beautiful!") And I recommend to all of you to use your beautiful and special things rather than waiting for some mythical special occasion to crop up, because frequently, you will be waiting forever and never get to enjoy the beautiful thing you bought for yourself. Using a special bag/wearing your beautiful new shoes/opening that expensive bottle of wine - they can all make a regular occasion special, and I recommend you do that rather than wait for some occasion arbitrarily deemed "special" enough to break out the fancy lipstick or whatever. Live your best life whenever you can, people!
* I cannot finish your urgent project in a timely fashion if you keep interrupting me to ask when your project is going to be finished! Please stop!
* We have already done Thing based on all your requirements (and with your approval!) last quarter. We can just update it instead of spending so much time trying to come up with a new way to do it (only to come up with basically the exact same Thing). There is no need to spend hours reinventing the wheel!
* You have to decide whether you need a meeting to happen ASAP or if you need everyone involved present, because it's July coming up on August, and half the people you need will be out on vacation at any given moment and I have no control of that.
* I don't want healthy snacks in the vending machine. If I am driven to getting food from it, it's generally because I want Frito Lay corn chips or terrible plasticky cheap chocolate, not some sort of chip made from beans or some kind of granola bar! WTF?
This is a time of magic. Through our own tenacity and volume, we have the ability to will things into existence.
We can resurrect cancelled television shows. We can force major corporations to apologize for social media faux pas. We literally created a line of dialogue for Samuel L. Jackson to say in “Snakes On A Plane” and, by god, he said it.
So while the NHL has given every indication that it will not participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics – right down to the moment when Gary Bettman announced the 2018 All-Star Game would be in Tampa, and basically said “because we’re not going to the Olympics” – hope is kept alive, because hockey fans who want to see the best best-on-best tournament in existence can will it into existence, right?
There was fuel for those flames this week, when Sports Express in Russia reported that Russian NHL players believe there is “a backup schedule with an Olympic break” that exists; a contingency plan for the NHL that allows them to still participate in the 2018 Olympics even though the 2017-18 schedule has been released.
The report went on to say that the NHL is facing heavy pressure from stars like Sidney Crosby to attend the 2018 Games, which is likely music to Gary Bettman’s ears since much of this is posturing to make the Olympics a huge CBA negotiation point in a few years.
Is there an Alternate Olympic Schedule for the 2017-18 season? I asked a few league sources and got a few “I don’t knows.”
But honestly, that’s besides the point. Nothing has changed with regard to what needs to happen for the NHL to go to South Korea: For the IOC to share its wealth with the NHL, and/or for the NHLPA to cave and extend the CBA through 2025.
And that’s with the assumption that the Olympics are still actually on the table, and there’s plenty of evidence to say they’re not.
“I know that there have been a variety of comments either from Rene Fasel of the International Ice Hockey Federation or from representatives from the Players’ Association suggesting that this was still an open issue. It is not and has not been,” said Bettman in late May.
In the next week, the NHL is going to have boots on the ground in Tampa to start cutting deals for the All-Star Game. That includes a partnership with the organizers of the Gasparilla Pirate Fest, for what should be a wild drunken time in January. They’re full speed ahead on that event in ways that would indicate that they’re not expecting to move it to 2019.
We’re also starting to see the beginnings of how these national teams will be built for a non-NHL Olympics.
The AHL this week confirmed to Steve Whyno that “teams were informed they could loan players on AHL contracts to national teams for the purposes of participating in the Pyeongchang Olympics.” That’s strictly minor league free agents, and not players on NHL contracts that have been demoted.
Also, for those keeping hope alive: Don’t read too much into the radio silence from USA Hockey on this. Like the fact there hasn’t been an orientation camp announced for the 2018 national team, like there was in August 2013 for the Sochi team. That was only going to be for NHL players; for a non-NHL player team, USA Hockey is going to create a pool of up to 150 players “based on past playing history and upcoming season expectation of Olympic availability.”
They’ll be evaluated based on 2014-18 performances, rather than coming to tryouts or some such. The rosters will be set by early January 2018.
Look, it’s OK if you want to continue to look at NHL Olympic participation through delusion-colored glasses. Most likely it’s because you’re a Canadian who knows that your third string could win gold, or a Swede that knows the Canadians have to beat someone for gold, or an American that … hey wait, we have Matthews and Eichel this time?!
The IOC and NHLPA better get to [expletive] caving so the NHL can roll out that alternate schedule…
MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS
The St. Louis Blues and 24-year-old defenseman Colton Parayko came to terms on a five-year, $27.5 million contract extension on Thursday, the day of their scheduled arbitration hearing. It carries an average annual value of $5.5 million.
One could easily understand why the Blues would want to avoid that hearing, as trying to dig up negatives on one of the best young defensemen in hockey – and, some feel, the best defenseman in St. Louis – would require a TMZ-level of mudslinging. There’s not much bad to say about him.
In two years, Parayko has 13 goals and 55 assists in 160 games. His time on ice jumped to 21:12 last season, and his numbers didn’t suffer: He had a 51.1 percent Corsi, playing most of his minutes as the better half of a pairing with Joel Edmundson.
According to the Post-Dispatch, the Blues submitted offers of $3.4 million and $3.6 million for each of two years. Parayko wanted one year at $4.85 million. So rather than risking that one-year bridge moving the bar up on a longer-term deal next summer, the Blues closed him at $5.5 million over five years.
One could argue that, after just two seasons, the Blues are already getting incredible value here, let alone three or four years into this deal. He was No. 14 in the NHL last season in individual Corsi per 60 minutes (12.98), ahead of Roman Josi (12.79), right there with Aaron Ekblad (13.19) and in sniffing distance of Erik Karlsson (13.48). (We imagine he smells of hair products and success.)
Parayko, who will be unrestricted when this contract is over, carries the same cap hit next season as Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Tyson Barrie, Justin Schultz, Nick Leddy and Jeff Petry. We’d argue he’s demonstrably better than all but the first name on that last. It’s inarguable that he’s younger than all of them.
He’s making slightly more than the contract Hampus Lindholm signed last season with the Anaheim Ducks, carrying a $5,205,556 annual value.
There’s a lot to love here with this deal for the Blues, because there’s a lot to love about Parayko:
Parayko's top-notch. If I were STL, I wouldn't even mind paying his full asking price. Seems like a longer term deal would've been wise. pic.twitter.com/gBhoY40rQg
— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) July 18, 2017
At the five-year anniversary of the Shea Weber offer sheet from the Philadelphia Flyers, it’s interesting to see a young defenseman opt not to work the system. There would have been a market for him as an RFA, no doubt. Hell, the Toronto Maple Leafs probably had a van parked outside his house since May.
But he wasn’t eligible for an offer sheet because he filed for arbitration, and the Blues accepted it. That was one level of commitment from Parayko. Agreeing on a deal that gives the Blues stability and flexibility like this one is another. GM Doug Armstrong has to be thrilled with this. So should St. Louis fans.
MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS
On July 19, 2012, Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators was a restricted free agent. The Philadelphia Flyers were trying to work a trade angle for him, but not getting any traction, despite having the threat of an offer sheet hanging over the Predators.
There was also the clock ticking down to the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, and how that might affect the term and dollars on Weber’s big contract — a contract that the Flyers couldn’t negotiate with him on before acquiring his rights.
Weber signed it.
And everyone freaked out, five years ago today.
The contract was for 14 years with a value of $110 million. At the time, and at age 26, it made Shea Weber the second-highest paid player in the NHL behind Alex Ovechkin, who by 2012 had won the Hart Trophy twice. Weber still hasn’t won a Norris.
The Predators had the decision to match the contract or accept four first-round picks from the Flyers, losing Weber in the process.
Nashville was coming off a 102-point season and a second-round playoff exit, but their holy trinity of star players was fracturing. Defenseman Ryan Suter signed a 13-year contract with the Minnesota Wild as an unrestricted free agent, leaving behind his defensive partner Weber and goalie Pekka Rinne.
GM David Poile was mega-pissed. Suter told the team he was re-signing back in November 2011. Nashville made a competitive offer to retain him. Suter said it wasn’t about the money, but rather about family, as his wife was a Minnesota native. “The disappointing part is that’s not what we talked about all year long. I think we met Ryan’s desires on every front so today is very, very disappointing,” said Poile.
But since that ship sailed, Poile shifted his target to re-upped Weber, his restricted free-agent captain restricted. “He’s the player we want to build our team around. We want him to be in Nashville for years to come,” said Poile.
One problem: Keeping Suter would have made retaining Weber much easier.
Weber expected the Predators would match any offer sheet he signed. But he also didn’t feel comfortable committing to the team long-term without Suter there. (That was according to Bob McKenzie at the time.)
So Weber’s camp sent out feelers, looking for teams that had the desire to trade for him and the ability to offer sheet him, for leverage. The field included teams like the New York Rangers, who were hot for Weber, and the Vancouver Canucks, whose general manager Mike Gillis said that he wasn’t confident that Weber’s contract wouldn’t be matched.
Why not offer sheet him anyway, like the Flyers? Said Gillis to the Globe & Mail:
“Well.” He paused, took a breath. “I guess that’s one school of thought. To me I’d rather be trying to accomplish things rather than, ‘Okay, throw something up in the air and hope that it sticks.’ “We threw around trade possibilities. We threw around every possible scenario. I spoke to him [Weber] about every possible scenario, and his agent. At the end of the day, I guess Philadelphia was prepared to take that chance.”
They were, and Weber signed an offer sheet that was specifically designed to torpedo any match from the Predators.
The contract paid him $1 million in base salary with a $13 million signing bonus over the first four years; $4 million in salary with an $8 million bonus in years five and six; $6 million in years 7-10; $3 million in year 11; and $1 million in each of the final three years.
(RIP, deep back-sliding contracts.)
If the Predators matched, they would have been on the hook for $27 million for Weber, with $26 million of it guaranteed through a lockout.
“To put that in perspective, 16.5 percent of Nashville’s entire franchise net worth ($163M as valuated by Forbes Magazine in 2011) would be paid out in less than a calendar year by the small-market team.”
Barry Petchesky of Deadspin called it “a CBA-Beating Masterpiece.”
The notion that the Predators would match this was, at the time, a long-shot. Nashville fans were left hoping that the threat that they might, or the Flyers’ cap considerations going forward, would net the Predators something more palpable than the four first-round picks. But the Flyers basically had all the leverage on a potential trade.
So the Predators were basically screwed, and the hockey world was Photoshopping Weber into Flyers jerseys.
And then David Poile matched the damn offer sheet.
On July 24, one day before the deadline to match, the Predators announced that Weber’s rights were retained. From the team:
As the organization analyzed the overall situation and worked toward a conclusion, the decision boiled down to three questions:
– Was Shea Weber the individual that this franchise wanted to lead our team, a team that would compete for the Stanley Cup every year, for the next 14 years?
– Would matching the offer sheet be in the best long-term interest of the team and organization?
– Would a decision not to match the offer sheet send a negative message to current Predators players and other NHL organizations, a message that the Predators would only go so far to protect its best players and be pushed around by teams with “deep pockets?”
The answer to each of the above questions is clearly “yes.” The organization spent the last several days analyzing all aspects of the offer sheet, from economic implications to the impact on the team hockey operations puts on the ice.
So after five years, what can we glean from this historic moment?
The Shea Weber offer sheet will go down as one of the great “WHAT IF?!” moments in NHL history, along with course-changers like the Eric Lindros trade. (The Flyers, apparently, being the League’s biggest fans of “Choose Your Own Adventure.”)
Let’s start off with the obvious: The Predators felt, at the time, that losing Weber would have been a debilitating blow to the franchise.
Losing Suter and Weber in the span of a month would have been humbling; fans, by and large, supported the Predators matching the offer sheet. From Marc Torrence from On The Forecheck:
Is this the most important deal in franchise history? On the surface it would seem so. The Predators have finally taken out the checkbook and signed its best player to a long-term deal that will keep him in Nashville for seemingly the rest of his caerer. Rejoice, Preds fans. The captain isn’t going anywhere.
Let’s continue with the further obvious: There is no P.K. Subban in Nashville if there isn’t a Shea Weber going back to Montreal in that deal. Then again, the Flyers were sniffing around Subban as well over the years – could they have made the Weber-for-Subban trade instead?
As for the aftermath of the deals, there’s obviously no way to tell where the Flyers might have finished with Weber. But for giggles, they selected No. 11, No. 17, No. 7 and No. 18 overall in the next four drafts.
What about life without Weber on the blue line? Said Holmgren after the offer sheet was matched:
“We are perfectly happy with our defense right now. To try and add a guy like Shea Weber, doesn’t really speak to anything other than maybe you are adding one of the best guys in the league.”
That defense featured a recently acquired Luke Schenn, who never became what the Flyers thought they were getting for JVR. It would later include another debacle from Holmgren: The Andrew MacDonald trade, followed by the Andrew MacDonald signing.
Less than a month later, Holmgren was “promoted” to team president and Ron Hextall was hired to sort this all out.
Since 2012, the Flyers have had more coaches (three) than playoff appearances (two). Since 2012, the Predators missed the playoffs in two straight seasons and then made them in three straight, losing in the Stanley Cup Final last season with former Flyers coach Peter Laviolette, fired the season after the Weber offer sheet was matched. Another domino that fell.
As for Weber, he might have seemed like a cold, calculated scoundrel at the time. Here was the team captain, chasing the money and trying to work a deal that got him out of playing in the only city he’d ever played in.
It didn’t help matters that his agent Jarrett Bousquet said Weber didn’t want to go through a “rebuilding” process in Nashville and “he’d like to play with the Philadelphia Flyers.”
Weber did damage control after the offer sheet match:
“I love the city of Nashville,” Weber said. “I love my teammates. I love the fans. It’s a very positive thing that the ownership has stepped up and they’re going to be a team that’s going to spend to the cap and brings guys in.
“The team stepped up and showed that they’re going to bend with the best of teams, and now we can focus on the season, and hopefully get some more pieces of the puzzle and build a contending team for a long time.”
It appears they will be, but not with Shea Weber. Because for all of the incredible maneuvering, massaging and masterminding of that offer sheet contract, the single most important aspect of it, in hindsight?
That there was no trade protection for Shea Weber.
And thus, despite the $110-million commitment five years ago, there’s no Shea Weber in Nashville today.
MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS
Creating a list of the greatest hockey players of all-time is an arduous task.
When myself, Dave Lozo and Sean McIndoe wrote “The 100 Greatest Players In NHL History (And Other Stuff)” – which is great vacation reading, by the way – establishing the criteria was almost as hard as building the list itself.
We were comparing eras with completely different standards of play, number of teams and quality of athletes (through advancements in coaching and training). In some cases, we were comparing the careers of current players yet to reach 30 years old, with players whose stories had already been told.
So we nod in appreciation to Sports-Express, the Russian publication that recently published its list of the 50 greatest Russian players of all-time. Their criteria?
* The level of hockey in the height of his career.
* Titles and awards in the NHL.
* Duration of playing in the NHL.
* Achievements outside the NHL are not taken into account.
This criteria produced the following list, and you can easily see where the criteria produced some abnormalities and outright absurdities. (Head here to see Ken Campbell’s take on this from The Hockey News, which hipped us to this list.)
Again, any list where Dmitri Yushkevich is ranked above Slava Fetisov, and that list isn’t “alphabetical by first name,” is just hard to fathom. But here we are.
Nikolai Khabibulin over Sergei Bobrovsky seems like a temporary problem. Artemi Panarin at No. 38? Yeah, might want to wait for one season without Patrick Kane on his line before putting him over someone like Tverdovsky.
But obviously the big headline here is Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins being named the best Russian player of all-time, ahead of Sergei Fedorov and Alex Ovechkin, with Pavel Bure and Pavel Datsyuk right behind them.
Using the rigid criteria that established the list, we can see how it led to Malkin. His three Stanley Cups match those of Fedorov. They both have one Hart Trophy. But Malkin has a Conn Smythe, which apparently is weighed heavier than the two Selke trophies Fedorov has that Malkin, frankly, could never hope to win. (Malkin’s highest finish for the Selke: 46th place.)
But again: How on earth can one determine that Malkin deserves the top spot over Fedorov when “stability and durability” can be assessed for a retired player but not for a guy who just hit 30?
When Fedorov hit 36 years old, his stats plummeted. Who knows what happens to Malkin in six years? One player seemingly gets the benefit of the doubt while the other is penalized for having played a complete career. That’s tough.
But let’s take them both on the merits of their “prime” careers. Since that’s hard to determine for Malkin, we’ll just go with his first 10 seasons:
706 games, 328 goals, 504 assists, 1.18 points per game average.
Fedorov, in his first 10 seasons:
672 games, 301 goals, 433 assists, 1.09 points per game average.
Keep in mind that Fedorov played half of those seasons during the trap years, while Malkin’s entire career was post-NHL 2.0 rules changes in 2006.
Then you have Ovechkin.
If this ranking was made in 2015, before the Penguins rolled to consecutive Stanley Cups and Ovechkin’s goal production dropped last season, is there any chance he’s not at the top of this ranking? Six goals titles, three player of the year awards and three Hart trophies. But because the ranking weighs Stanley Cup wins rather heavily, and the Washington Capitals turn into quivering invertebrates every postseason, apparently Ovechkin gets knocked down a few pegs.
Where we to rank the Russians, based entirely on NHL output? I will respectfully disagree with our book’s ranking and go Ovechkin, Fedorov and Malkin – with the caveat that the definitive ranking of these three icons can’t happen until we see how the current stars finish their NHL runs.
What do you think of this Sports Express list?
MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS
There are always challenges in creating the official Stanley Cup Playoffs commemorative video.
There are the time constraints, as the NHL likes to turn around these things as fast as possible to capitalize on the momentum from the championship round. That means assembling the footage from several sources – the teams, the League and the NHL’s documentary series on Showtime – as well as shooting fresh interviews with players after the Cup Final.
“We jam on this thing,” said Steve Mayer, NHL Executive Vice President and Chief Content. “Within one week, we put the whole thing together. Five edit rooms going, around the clock.”
The finished product hits on July 25, as Cinedigm and NHL Original Productions release “Stanley Cup Champions 2017: Pittsburgh Penguins” on Blu-Ray Combo Pack, DVD and Digital HD.
Another challenge to making the video: Telling a new story after back-to-back championships. From the looks of things, there appears to be an emphasis on the last ride for the core group of Penguins that were there for all three Cup wins.
Here’s a look at the trailer:
Mayer and his team did extensive work on material for the NHL centennial celebration, and found a new appreciation for the annual Stanley Cup videos the League produces, culling highlights and storylines from them.
“We know the main audience is Pittsburgh Penguins fans. But it’s the chronicle for everyone, for all time. That’s how we approach it,” he said. “This is the living chronicle of this year’s Pittsburgh Penguins run to the Stanley Cup, so it better be detailed and produced that way.”
MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS
Wednesday reading meme:
What I've just finished
Caliban's War by James S.A. Corey, which I enjoyed a lot, mainly because Avasarala is the best and also Bobbie! ♥ Holden still needs a lot of punching though. Ugh. Why is this guy the main character? Not only is he a dead bore, he's a ridiculously common dead bore!
I like TV!Prax better than book!Prax, I think, but I also think the show compresses the timeline in a way that means I don't get bored with a character having repetitive beats, the way I can, and do in this case, in a book.
What I'm reading now
Still, I picked up Abaddon's Gate and started it this morning, so I'm still entertained enough to continue.
What I'm reading next
The next book in this series, probably. I don't even know what the name of it is. *looks it up* Ah, Cibola Burn.
I also read two really long stories that both turned out to be in progress, which I probably should have noticed but didn't. I mean, when I see a thing is 175K words long, I figure it's done. I mean, who has that much to say in one story? But no. Sigh.
In my recent fanfic readings, I learned that I will nope out of a story if you kill off Wedge Antilles. Which was a surprise to me - how strongly my kneejerk NOPE was - but there you go. Do not want! (I mean, I don't care for any character death in my fic, and generally not in canon either! but I get that some AU premises require it. But like Bartleby the scrivener, I would prefer not to.)
I also learned that I don't really ship Bodhi with anyone but if I did it would have to be Jyn and Cassian. Gotta keep the Star Wars OT3 pattern going, I guess. I just don't find Jyn and Cassian all that compelling. *hands* I'd much rather read about Baze and Chirrut being the most married. (I think Rebels is the only place that doesn't have an OT3, but I am okay with that. I'm already bracing for Kanan and Hera to get an undeserved tragic ending.)
I also realized that in addition to believing that Luke Skywalker is asexual, I believe Anakin is demisexual, and both Leia and Padme are bisexual. Ahsoka is mostly into women except that I also ship her with Anakin (and Rex, a little), so there are exceptions? And Obi-Wan is pansexual and flirting his way across the galaxy at any given moment.
Which is probably more than anyone cared to know about my Star Wars head canons. *snerk*