Friday, February 18, 2011

Finding optimism for every NHL fanbase

The NHL trade deadline is looming. In fact, it is just 10 days away. For some teams, this may mean adding that one extra piece to make a serious Stanley Cup run this season, while for others, it could mean trying to add a significant piece to make a playoff run. For others, although there aren't many this season, this time of year means trading away valueable assets to other teams so they can have a chance to make the playoffs (sorry Edmonton and Islanders, Trottier and Gretzky don't count anymore...). So let's be ridiculously optimistic, and shed a little light on every NHL team this trade deadline.

ANAHEIM DUCKS - The loss of the retired Scott Niedermayer has been eased by the emergence of Cam Fowler. More importantly, watching George Parros throw punches has become quite entertaining. It's going to take more than a Matt Cooke elbow to slow these hands down.

ATLANTA THRASHERS - Despite one of the most...unique marketing campaigns in league history (having the team's mascot drive a zamboni down an Atlanta highway), the Thrashers have experienced a decrease in attendance this season. I'm not entirely sure why. Just because they lost a player with a powerful shot who lacks the ability to play defense last season doesn't mean they couldn't find a replacement, they found Dustin Byfuglien (see, I didn't need to check the spelling of his name!!!).

BOSTON BRUINS - The Bruins have another Toronto Maple Leafs first round draft pick to use this season, so naturally, that means it'll be a fairly high pick. This is a good thing, because Boston needs to not only make off for the loss of Phil Kessel, but Marc Savard as well.

BUFFALO SABRES - Ryan Miller has certainly not backed up his Vezina-winning season last year in 2010-11. Perhaps he left his heart in Vancouver after pulling a Leighton (even though that goal occured after the Olympics...) in the Gold Medal game. One thing cannot be denied, though, and that is Buffalo is a model of consistency. Their first generation of fans never got to see them win a Stanley Cup, and 40 years later, this generation still hasn't seen one. I'm pretty sure I saw a few Sabres jersey at last week's Toronto/Buffalo Buffalo. That's a good sign.

CAROLINA HURRICANES - The Canes will retire Rod Brind'Amour's number tonight, so you can bet the Canes will be pumped up to play tonight. With Staal and Skinner, one can only help but wonder if Carolina might be Gary Bettman's new favorite hockey city, especially since Crosby and Malkin seem to be a bit banged up. It works, though, because Skinner's ability to grow facial hair makes Crosby look like Lanny McDonald on a good day.

COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS - The Jackets average about 13,400 fans per game, however when the Penguins or Red Wings play in Columbus, they average about 15,000 Penguin and Red Wing fans per game. It's good to know that if Mario sells the Pens that they will have a potential new home.

CALGARY FLAMES - The Flames have been, well, on fire lately. Some might attribute this to the change in front office. Darryl Sutter out, Jay Feaster in. There might be some truth to this, as Darryl's brother, and Flames head coach Brent Sutter now realizes that he could get fired since his brother isn't the General Manager.

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS - The Hawks are on the outside of the playoffs looking in. The last defending champion to miss the following year's playoffs was the 1995-96 Devils. Unlike that team, these Hawks have been gutted out and rebuilt. Their coach is also in the hospital. Hmm, I said eevery team had to be optimistic, so what does the city of Chicago have to look forward to (besides another year of misery for the Cubs)? I apologize, but I couldn't find the date for the Chicago circus.

COLORADO AVALANCHE - The Avs are a young team, but they're certainly a disappointment this season, just a year after riding Craig Anderson all the way to the playoffs. Avs fans should be excited, though, because there's always Foppa watch part...21. If Forsberg doesn't return, the watch turns to Joe Sakic?

DALLAS STARS - The talk of the off-season in Dallas will be about Brad Richards' future in Dallas. No it won't. Actually most of the summer will be spent watching the Texas Rangers and hope that there will be Cowboys, or any, pro-football. But I'm sure someone will be watching Brad Richards' future. I know Ranger fans will be.

DETROIT RED WINGS - If this is Nicklas Lidstrom's swan song, I hope he enjoys retirement. Chances are that he'll end up in someone's front office, following Detroit's last captain's footsteps. On a lighter note, I wish they'd bring that squeaky air-hornish goal horn back. Okay bad idea, maybe not.

EDMONTON OILERS - Hey, what's not to get excited about in Edmonton? The perks of losing are endless...until Gary Bettman gets sick of giving you the #1 overall pick. That's about when things get ugly.

FLORIDA PANTHERS - Last time the Panthers were good, they had players killing rats and fans throwing plastic rats all over the ice. I wouldn't suggest that promotion again, but then again, Florida's marketing department isn't that bright, as they continue to welcome visiting fans. That's not how you build a home fanbase.

LA KINGS - Maybe by this trade deadline, Dean Lombardi will finally manage to land a superstar. Too bad Aaron Voros is off the market. Colton Orr and Zenon Konopka seem like viable options for the Kings.

MINNESOTA WILD - They'll get Guillaume Latendresse back for next year, and maybe, while they're at it, they can get Marian Gaborik back. Maybe Jacques Lemaire as well if he doesn't retire.

MONTREAL CANADIENS - The Habs could use a big guy. They'd be doing themselves a favor by adding Jason Arnott at the deadline. Then maybe the "Hal Gill and the 7 Dwarfs" jokes would go away.

NASHVILLE PREDATORS - What do Preds fans have to look forward to? Well, probably a lot of big goalies and a lot of Carrie Underwood-sung National Anthems. I hope she knows the lyrics to "O Canada." Her husband only spent 11 years in Canada's capital. Didn't Christina Aguilera live in the U.S. longer than that?

NEW JERSEY DEVILS - No matter what the fate of this season brings, Lou Lamoriello will be given a lot of HELL if the Devils don't re-sign Zach Parise. This isn't Phil Kessel, where a pair of first round picks can compensate for him. Although, apparently the Devils also have a superstar sniper on the team. Too bad I haven't seen him play.

NY ISLANDERS - This season, the Isles have claimed someone else's goalie, lost three goalies of their own (1 due to trade, 1 due to a fight and 1 due to an injury in warm-ups), however the emergence of Michael Grabner has to be inspiring. Two things could occur with Grabner: He could leave via free agent like most rational ex-Islanders, or sign long-term and leave the team because he felt like going back home or because he gets injured twice a week.

NY RANGERS - The Rangers really need a bad contract. Roszival was their last hope. Well, there is Chris Drury, I suppose. Glen Sather has finally realized that the minor leagues are not for programming robots to be traded for washed up stars. Too bad they don't have a really overpaid player buried and trapped in the minors right now...

OTTAWA SENATORS - The Sens keep trading away pieces, and with all the mediocre draft picks they keep acquiring, they'll have a competitive ECHL team within the decade, AND have a goaltender to stabilize them in Craig Anderson. That's a reason to be optimistic, right?

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS - Not sure they're looking to make any impact trades. What they could do is trade Zherdev for a 1st round pick. That is, of course, only if Paul Holmgren is able to edit Zherdev's "awareness" levels to 95. That would give Philly a rare 1st round pick.

PHOENIX COYOTES - I hope my car can fit all of the Coyote fans as I help them move up to Winnipeg/Quebec City/anywhere. I should have plenty of room. Gary Bettman doesn't count.

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS - Just think, if Pittsburgh needed to level the playing field without Crosby or Malkin, they could just tell Matt Cooke to go and elbow the opposing target and knock him out...not that he's ever done that before.

SAN JOSE SHARKS - They now have the Great White Shark...Ian White. That would excite me. That should compensate for the brutal loss of Jay Leach in a minor league trade last week.

ST. LOUIS BLUES - They just lost Eric Brewer today. This year doesn't look like it'll be one of their big second half charges.

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING - They just acquired Eric Brewer. Also, I bet Steve Yzerman is sure glad he didn't have to draft Steven Stamkos, because judging by his Team Canada roster from the Vancouver Olympics, he may not have gone to Tampa Bay.

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS - After years of speculation, the Kaberle rumors are least until July 1st, when Brian Burke will probably sweet-talk Tomas into re-signing in Toronto. Maybe the league will reject the trade and fine the Leafs a first round pick. Hmm, that'd be tough, coming up with a 1st round pick is going to be a difficult task for Toronto. I can't wait for Leafs fans to start campaigning to bring in Brad Richards to make a playoff run this year.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS - Why not be optimistic about the Canucks? The only problem is that they are attempting to pass the Devils for "most defensemen called up in a single season." Sami Salo needs to play in a bubble to avoid injury.

WASHINGTON CAPITALS - It must be weird looking up and seeing a team in your division ahead of you. I bet the Caps forgot they played in a division. They just usually win the regular season and then choke out of the playoffs. This year has been a bit humbling, huh?