Original Six in the spotlight
However archaic it may be, it's true. The NHL's Original Six -- Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Montreal, New York (Rangers) and Toronto -- make up the backbone of the league, and it's been said time and again: The success of those six teams is integral to the overall well-being of the league.
Now, for the first time in quite awhile, all but one of these franchises (and I'll give you a wild guess which the one is) are legitimate playoff contenders heading into this season. It seems that hockey is creating a bit of a buzz in each of those big markets, and if the preseason projections pan out, it would be the first time since 2002 that as many as five O6 teams made the postseason (the last time all six made it was in 1995-96).
So let's take a look at each of the teams, the cities where they reside, their season outlook, and how much league promotion they're getting as a result of their old-time hockey status:
Smart money is on them to repeat, a blessing to the league considering the team's large and loyal fanbase. When the reigning Stanley Cup champions are also an Original Six team, it seems to sweeten the deal. The Wings will open the North American season on Thursday night, Oct. 9, as one of the three O6 teams featured on national TV. Detroit hosts the NHL Face-Off Rocks concert (
If celebrating their 100th anniversary isn't enough, the Habs are also among the preseason favorites to take the Eastern Conference. If they meet the Wings in the final, as some hockey pundits are predicting, it will be a dream matchup for the league as well as the first O6 final since 1979, when the Canadiens beat the Rangers in five games. Montreal is beaming with pride about the current team, the franchise, and the fact that the city will host two marquee events: the All-Star game in January and 2009 entry draft in June. It doesn't stop there, no. The team will retire legendary goaltender
They've made the playoffs in each of the last three seasons, but haven't quite been able to elevate themselves past the second round. Perhaps chemistry, or lack thereof, is to blame. It certainly was an issue last season when winger
Renewed enthusiasm in Chicago has the league taking notice. The Blackhawks, who were three points short of making the playoffs last season, are expected to make another strong push. Not only will the Hawks televise all 82 of their regular season games for the first time ever, they will try to shed the moniker of the most disappointing O6 franchise for the better part of the last decade: only one postseason appearance in the last 10 years. Led by young scoring sensations
The recent run of non-hockey successes in Beantown have clearly overshadowed the Bruins during the last few years. Between the Red Sox winning two World Series titles and the Patriots' dominating the NFL and the Celtics making their title resurgence last season, it's been easy for the Bruins to get lost in the mix. A surprising run into last season's playoffs helped matters a bit, and this team looks to be even better with the healthy return of center
Already thrown by many to the bottom of this season's projected standings, the Leafs are starting with absolutely no expectations. But like any team with a long history and fervent fans, how well they do doesn't necessarily determine how much support they receive. Of course, winning always helps, but true fans stick by no matter what (see