By Ryan Lambert
Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend's events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.
Bad news, gang.
A report that came out Sunday said that if the lockout were to happen, it would not only derail a few weeks or more of the NHL season, but would likely also mean the cancellation of Columbus' turn to host the All-Star game. And it wouldn't even take all that long to do it; Atlanta was scheduled to host the league's most important annual exhibition game in 2005, but that was canceled less than a month after the regular season was scheduled to begin.
This is, I think we can all agree, pretty much terrible news. If there's no All-Star game for the second time in eight years, the league's fans — the only ones who will be truly hurt by this labor war between millionaires, billionaires and Greg Jamison — will be robbed of one of their favorite traditions: Complaining about the All-Star game.
Can you just imagine how terrible the months of December and January will be when no one is complaining about how many votes the home fans are stuffing into the ballot box for all their favorite stars, like Rick Nash, Jack Johnson and … um, is David Vyborny still on the team?
How will we deal with not hearing about how such-and-such-an-old-player doesn't deserve to make it because he's old and terrible now? What happens when we don't get to complain about players not doing their duty to the fans and showing up despite debilitating knee injuries?
It's going to be truly shameful. If a great NHL market like Columbus, which finished fourth (from the bottom) in home attendance last year, doesn't get rewarded with an All-Star game, it will be borderline criminal, and we won't know who to blame.
(Coming Up:The return of Alex Kovalev?; Dany Heatley's lawsuit; Jarret Stoll's grandparents violate the CBA; Justin Schultz Hate Night in Anaheim; Tyler Seguin and Aly Raisman being set up by Boston media; Dallas gets a new voice; Darren Helm, lynchpin; Scott Hannan to the Preds; Dale Hunter won't miss DC media; and stop blaming Gary Bettman for all of this.)
The owners value the All-Star game as a great way to shamelessly make money off the dimwitted fan base and, more importantly, from the even more dimwitted sponsors. It's a huge revenue driver, and we all know how hard-up for revenues the league is these days.
Clearly, canceling this event — along with the fantasy draft, and the skills competition where players are more concerned with yukking it up with their buddies than anything else — would be the absolute worst decision for all involved, but one that must be grudgingly arrived at as a last resort 2 1/2 months before it's scheduled to start.
The poor local puckheads who manage to elbow their way past all the sponsors, VIPs, and other people the NHL gives free tickets to despite constantly touting this as a game for the fans, and who actually pay hundreds of dollars for the privilege of watching the All-Star game, will be the ones that suffer most, of course. Where else can they turn to see their favorite NHL superstars lazily half-ass and no-backcheck their way through games in the event of a lockout ... apart from the first two months of the KHL, Swedish league, Czech league, Swiss league, Finnish league, or German league seasons?
These fans aren't invested in Modo, Sparta Praha or HC Davos. They're invested in Team Steve Mason and Team Ryan Callahan (or whatever), first and foremost.
But perhaps the people who will have it worst is the players. Where else will they be able to party with all their best friends while simultaneously doing all the heavy lifting of "promoting the game" in gorgeous vacation destinations like Columbus, Ohio, with absolutely no compensation at all?
"Anywhere they want because they're rich," you say?
Stop being so cynical.
Man, if the All-Star game goes this year, what will everyone in the hockey world spend all their time thinking about? Oh right, that whole lockout thing. Yes.
What We Learned
Anaheim Ducks: Ducks fans are planning a "Justin Schultz Hate Night" for the Oilers' first visit to Honda Center, on Oct. 19. Umm, guys, about that date…
Boston Bruins: Tyler Seguin and Olympic gold medalist/Massachusetts native Aly Raisman are basically being set up by the Boston media to begin dating. The backlash against Raisman from girls aged 16-25 in the greater Boston area will be legendary.
Buffalo Sabres: Robyn Regehr might be setting his sights a little high here: "[The players] want is the high revenue earning teams to share with the lower revenue teams. If we can come to an agreement it will help hockey for 20 to 30 years and we won't have to go through this all again." Hahaha 20 to 30 years. Yeah, OK buddy.
Calgary Flames: Bob Hartley and Jay Feaster have been friends for a long time, but when they were in different organizations, their conversations weren't as cordial as they could have been because each was trying to "pull" information from the other. Now, Hartley says things are different because they're both pulling in the same direction. Sure, it's into a pit of near-endless despair, but at least it's something.
Carolina Hurricanes: The Hurricanes will be holding Storm Squad (read: cheerleader) tryouts Monday and Wednesday. What to bring? "Simply bring a working knowledge of your schedule and availability, a resume and $10 registration fee." Don't worry too much if you're busy in October.
Chicago Blackhawks: Will all the old Blackhawks scoring records be safe? Right now, Patrick Sharp only trails Bobby Hull's 604 goals by 421. Meanwhile, Patrick Kane is only 683 back of Stan Mikita's assist record, and 1,098 behind in total points. These kids are climbing Mount Olympus one 65-point season at a time!
Colorado Avalanche: In the middle of last week, the Avs signed Mitchell Heard, their second-round draft pick from June, to a contract and are expected to assign him to Lake Erie of the AHL. "He is coming off a strong season in the OHL, and we are excited to see him at training camp," said Greg Sherman, likely without a hint of irony.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Blue Jackets prospects Boone Jenner and Ryan Murray played very well in the Canada-Russia Challenge, but probably shouldn't get too used to things like success in their professional careers until they demand trades to the Kings.
Dallas Stars: The Stars have hired local radio personality Jeff K. as their new PA guy for next season, and with the station he works for playing truly great bands like Linkin Park, Puddle of Mudd and Incubus, maybe it makes sense that all their free-agent signings were in the prime of their careers in like 1999.
Detroit Red Wings presented by Amway: If Darren Helm is healthy, the Red Wings will be better. Yup, Darren Helm is the lynchpin to Detroit's success. He was on pace to rack up 32 big points last season!
Edmonton Oilers: Just how good can Nail Yakupov be for the Oilers next season? The Hockey News has him projected to outscore Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in their respective rookie seasons. Yikes.
Florida Panthers: Panthers fans aren't happy with the ratings their players got from EA Sports for NHL 13, with the ratings for Brian Campbell (83) and Joe Theodore (78) being particular sticking points. "Where is the justice?" asks Scott Mullin. If you click on only one link in WWL this week, make it this one, if only so you can read the THOUGHT-PROVOKING final paragraph. We're through the looking glass here, people.
Los Angeles Kings: Jarret Stoll's grandparents used to pay him $1 for every goal he scored, which seems like it should be a violation of the CBA. No money on the board, Doreen and Wilbert Stoll, even if it is just 119 bucks so far in his career.
Minnesota Wild: Dany Heatley is suing a former agent for $11 million over some bad real estate deals, but if he's really hard-up for that kind of cash he should just ask Ryan Suter and Zach Parise to look between their couch cushions.
Montreal Canadiens: Could Alex Kovalev be on his way back to the NHL? Could the Canadiens be a destination team? I don't know, but it seems like if you want a generally unlikeable 40-year-old who takes long stretches off and hasn't played in the NHL in a while, wouldn't you see what Claude Lemieux is up to first?
Nashville Predators: The Predators signed Scott Hannan to a one-year deal, for reasons anyone who saw him play one shift in Calgary last season cannot fully understand.
New Jersey Devils: A team from New Jersey made it pretty far in the Little League World Series, allowing the Devils to get a long, hard look at their future Chris Drury-type captain.
New York Islanders: I know no one really wants to play for the Islanders, but there are better ways to avoid it, Lubomir Visnovsky.
New York Rangers: The Rangers are trying to get away with giving Mike Del Zotto $2.2-$2.5 million a season for the next few years, but the RFA defenseman isn't having it for fairly obvious reasons.
Ottawa Senators: Colin Greening reveals he once spray-painted a fence when he was a kid. Oh the trouble he and Huck used to get into.
Philadelphia Flyers: The Flyers have the best uniforms in pro sports according to a writer for NFL.com who has not seen the Blues' Cool Cat jersey.
Phoenix Coyotes: Monday was Day No. 10 since Jude LaCava of Fox 10 in Arizona said Greg Jamison would have the deal for the Coyotes sewn up within the next five days. A tumbleweed just rolled past the Jobing.com Arena.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Joe Vitale, Matt Cooke and Jordan Staal recently visited Haiti and donated a bunch of the team's unsold Staal No. 11 shirts, as well as soccer and street hockey equipment, to local kids.
San Jose Sharks: Joe Thornton isn't going to play in Switzerland, or anywhere else in Europe, if there's a lockout. Hey, remember how well all those 30-plus players who didn't play during the last lockout did when the league came back?
St. Louis Blues: Detroit recently canceled its annual Traverse City prospects tournament, in which the Blues typically participate. It's really too bad. Now where am I supposed see 18-year-olds punch each other in the face for no reason? The mall!? Forget it, I don't feel like going out.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Matt Carle will wear Dave Andreychuk's No. 25, which has gone unworn since the Cup-winning captain retired. Because if you're gonna break a moratorium like that for a future Hall of Fame player's number, you do it for a guy like Matt Carle.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Randy Carlyle is scheduled to speak at a horse rally, which doesn't seem like the best place to find a No. 1 center, but then I'm not an NHL coach.
Vancouver Canucks: The Canucks and Alex Burrows are now discussing a contract extension and you can't see it where you are, but I'm doing the finger thing that means lots of money.
Washington Capitals: Dale Hunter doesn't regret getting the hell out of Washington. He says he won't miss the media though, because they kept trying to get him to throw his players under the bus. He's not going to do it unless it's Mike Knuble.
Winnipeg Jets: Adding Alex Ponikarovsky and Olli Jokinen will hopefully make the Jets more difficult to play against. If he gets half-decent linemates (like, say, Evander Kane), Jokinen is going to be very good for them this season. It's gonna be crazy.
Gold Star Award
Congratulations to Fox Sports Arizona for the 1 millionth "Hey when is Shane Doan going to sign?" article this summer. It took a lot of hard work, but we got there!
Minus of the Weekend
More acting like Gary Bettman is the one engineering the upcoming lockout. Get a clue, everyone.
Perfect HFBoards Trade Proposal of the Week
User "Vankiller Whale" knows what it is.
To San Jose:
San Jose 1st
This solves everyone's problems!
I'd like it better if you didn't think I was stupid.