You get plenty of correspondence in this business, and my natural guilt complex makes me always want to give at least a sentence or two in reply. You take the time to write, I'll take the time to respond, even to the haters. Of course, when I blow up and become world famous (any day now, any day) that might change.
You especially get a lot of correspondence when you do a weekly NHL Power Rankings for a big outfit like SI.com. One thing is true about NHL fans: they love their teams and let you know when they don't like where you ranked them. According to my in-box lately, fans in at least five NHL cities think their teams should have "Sacco and Vanzetti" (look it up) on the back of their sweaters for the level of injustice in my rankings. Then there are the worrywarts who don't like it when their teams are ranked so high, especially by a well-renowned jinxer like me (hello, Minnesota Wild).
So, the lesson remains: you can't win. But not every email is about my Power Rankings. Here's a sampling from the latest batch:
I like the idea. It needs some tweaking, though, a little distillation. Some of these matchups just have no shot of being real rivalries. Rivalries are almost always between very old teams. History makes rivalries. There have been a few exceptions. Detroit-Colorado; Boston-Vancouver is now a great one. But Wild-Canucks? Not going to be a rivalry. Avalanche-Blues?Capitals-Canes? Nope.
A lot of hockey people believe the all-time best rivalry was/is New York Rangers vs. New York Islanders. It's a shame the Islanders haven't been a real NHL team for so long now. That tends to hurt a rivalry, but it still doesn't stop Rangers fans from chanting "Potvin Sucks" at every single game.
Toronto-Ottawa isn't as intense a rivalry as Toronto-Montreal. Ottawa will always be a tough place to develop a rivalry because when the game is over, fans mostly just get in their cars and drive back to their various urban/suburban towns far away from business-park heavy Kanata. A great rivalry city has to have multiple, well-stocked barrooms just outside the arena where everyone can go to hash over the game while having a few pops.
Overall, I think the league has enough manufactured rivalries with the Classic and the Canada/U.S. hockey days. Let's keep that one on the back burner for now.
Look, I like Marchand. He's a little ball of hate, but it was a dirty hit, a low-bridge job that caused a serious injury. It wasn't a hip check, like some of his apologists want to believe. He ducked and sent Sami Salo flying over his back while aiming for the knees. It was a submarine job. Five games from Sheriff Shanahan was the right call.
As for Roberto Luongo, I agree. Boston might always be in his head. His play there in the final was just brutal. So maybe he starts all the games in Vancouver and Schneider starts 'em all in Boston next time.
And this love letter came in during a week I had the Rangers ranked No. 1 overall.
Tough crowd in Queens.
Yes! I love this one. A winter Classic inside Cowboys Stadium, with skating cheerleaders and all. Brilliant! Wait, though: won't the heat from that giant JumboTron melt the ice? Who cares! This would be spectacular. Make it happen, Gary Bettman!
I've had my Magic 8-ball since I was 7, and rarely has it let me down. But I need to see what this team is going to look like after the trade deadline before giving the ball a good shake and asking. Mind you, I love the Blues as they are now. Hiring Hitchcock was the top stroke of genius by an NHL team so far this season, and the Blues are big, fast and skilled up front. But I would like to maybe see another top-six forward in the lineup, maybe a bigger, tough D-man somewhere.
As the 8-ball often says to me: "Ask again later."
Well, first off, Theodore and Clemmensen are making a combined $2.5 million on both of their contracts this season. I'm not sure that amount is "big." Second, while I agree that Markstrom is a good prospect and likely the Panthers' goalie of the future, there might still be a two- or three-year window where another netminder can come in and be the main guy while Markstrom keeps learning.
Luongo could be that guy. He's still got game, he's well remembered in Florida, he liked playing there, and he'd sell some tickets -- something to always consider with the Panthers. So, I'm sticking with my prediction on this one. Luongo moves after this season, and Florida is prime real estate.
Thank you for your questions people. Keep 'em coming. -- Adrian