A good Friday to you all. But enough of that sentimental rigamarole. I’ve got my business socks on, so it must be business time.
Adam, I’ve seen some of the reactions on THN.com to your pre-season predictions and let me say I thank some of those people who commented for the hearty laugh. How do you guys come up with the order? And how do you feel about the backlash that seems to happen every year? Thanks.
Terry U., Manchester, U.K.
Let’s clear something up for those who haven’t yet laid eyes on the feature you’re talking about: they’re not my picks, but our collective picks as a magazine/brand. (Mine will come closer to the start of the season.)
We arrive at the order each July – yes, we have to do it that early in order to meet production deadlines for the Yearbook in which the picks appear – by sitting in a room with editor-in-chief Jason Kay; we arrive at consensus through detailed, passionate debate.
The result is a list we can live with, even if individual THN employees disagree slightly (or heavily) with the placement of a particular team.
As for the outcry, it’s old hat to me now. Year after year, we get ripped by fans with a vested interest in their franchise – but only when those fans don’t feel we’ve paid sufficient homage to their beloved, infallible warrior representatives.
To them, we’re incontinent mouth-breathers who deserve to be scratched off Christmas card lists from here to Helsinki. However, if a reader or blogger agrees with us, we’re the savviest cats on the block and ideal romantic suitors for non-married family members.
Neither extreme is true, of course. We do the best we can to communicate some of the NHL community’s expectations for teams, but when all people are seeking is a validation of their own viewpoint, there’s bound to be some friction and hard feelings.
You have to have a thick skin in this line of work – especially over the course of the next month or so – and we certainly do at THN, where we’ve been accused over the years of harboring a grudge against Americans, Canadians, Europeans, the New York Rangers, Cooperalls, photosynthesis and the Gulf of Tonkin’s role in the Vietnam War.
It’s ridiculous, but it will go on as long as pro hockey does. You watch – the next time you’ll hear something about our predictions will be at the upcoming NHL training camps, when a beat writer walks up to a player, coach or GM and says, “The Hockey News predicts you’ll finish in XXth place – your thoughts?”
Most will shrug it off, but there’ll probably be one or two thin-skinned souls who unload a standard, dreary cliché about us “so-called experts” going to Vegas if we know so much.
The bottom line – I’ll start taking prediction lessons as soon as one of these grumbling jokers shows me his or her blemish-free prediction record.
Adam, what do you think of the Carolina Hurricanes’ acquisitions this summer? How do you feel the additions of Tom Kostopoulos, Andrew Alberts and Aaron Ward will impact the team? Is this a top contender in the Eastern Conference now?
Steve Shank, Raleigh, N.C.
I like Carolina more than I did last year; Cam Ward’s dramatic turnaround in play last season is the chief reason for my change of heart.
The players you noted will certainly make them tougher to play against, but here’s the Canes signing I like best: former Bruins center Stephane Yelle. He’s a veteran of many playoff battles who can still do a little of everything at age 35.
I wouldn’t categorize the Canes as a frontrunner among Stanley Cup contenders, but there’s very little doubt in my mind they’re a playoff team that represents Washington’s biggest obstacle in repeating as Southeast Division winners.
Adam – since Todd Bertuzzi signed with the Detroit Red Wings, I have seen at least four articles (one from THN's own Ryan Kennedy) talking about Bertuzzi's curse and how the Red Wings are doomed.
However, flash back to 2007, where the Wings were just a Game 5 Andreas Lilja turnover away from playing in the Stanley Cup final with Bertuzzi on the roster. Sure Bert has lost a step, but do you believe he will affect the Wings negatively?
Prashanth Iyer, Detroit
I’m fine with my THN colleagues, or any professional hockey writer, weighing in on the theme or topic of their choice. Half the fun of being a hockey writer is being open to new arguments while maintaining as much skepticism as you feel an argument calls for.
Personally, I don’t see Bertuzzi as an albatross around Ken Holland’s neck; the Wings GM had him before and he obviously feels comfortable bringing the big winger and his waning-but-still-there goal-scoring ability to Detroit.
Will Bertuzzi have a few lapses in discipline this year? As Curly from the Three Stooges said – “why, soitenly!” He’s been that way his entire hockey career, but just about every NHLer takes a dumb penalty at a key situation during each season.
The Wings’ season won’t be determined by a fading star of significant notoriety; their fortunes will rise and fall on the strength of Nick Lidstrom, Niklas Kronwall, Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg – and their goaltenders.
Ask Adam appears Fridays on TheHockeyNews.com. Proteau also answers readers' question in every issue of The Hockey News magazine and on The Hockey News Radio Show every other Friday in the summer from 4-5 p.m. EST on XM Radio channel 204. To send us your question or comment, click HERE.
Adam Proteau is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays, his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.
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