For most teams in the NHL the season is about three weeks away. Which, much like The Miz, IS AWESOME! Most training camps will open around the 15th of September and our long, hot summer will officially be over. Before the puck drops for the season opener I will have some sort of season preview posted (probably) detailing the Southeast Conference (maybe) and focusing on the beloved Lightning (of course). In the meantime, let us take a quick look at what transpired over the last 3 months or so of off-season.
If last season was the summer of Kovalchuk, then this season was the summer of unneeded worry. It started with the Steven Stamkos contract status and is drawing to a close with another round of Sidney Crosby concussion drama. For the 18th summer running the Phoenix Coyotes were in the running to move to Canada and were being courted by people with more money than me. Yet, they’ll be playing at least one more season in the desert.
In the end the biggest news was a team actually moving to Canada and a team blowing up it’s core to overpay a Russian goaltender. Unfortunately for Antero Niittymaki and his 176-0 record against them, the Atlanta Thrashers are no more. In less time then it took HP to release and then discontinue their iPad Killer, the team was sold and moved to the Great White North to the delight of thousands, if not millions, of Canadians.
Will they survive? Who knows? As a matter of fact, who cares? For the next three seasons at least the novelty of NHL hockey in Winnipeg will keep the team rolling along. Once they figure out the re-alignment issues next year the Jets won’t really be the Lightning’s problem any longer. As for now, the long commute for Southeast teams will make plenty of fodder for columnists all along the south.
As for the Flyers, well that was a busy off-season, eh? They cleared some cap space by trading away Jeff Carter and their captain Mike Richards. That space was promptly taken up when they traded for the rights to Ilya Bryzgalov and signed him to a nine year deal. Despite blowing their wad on a goalie that was only marginally better than the one the had the year before it didn’t stop them from being the number one thorn in Lightning fan’s sides for most of the spring/early summer.
Why is that? Well because they were going to sign Steven Stamkos to a 10 year $120 million offer sheet. Remember that? Now, in the aftermath, doesn’t it seem a little ludicrous? Doesn’t it seem like we all wasted a lot of thoughts on something that really wasn’t going to happen? Steven is happily signed to a reasonable deal (although it doesn’t seem he’s wasted any of it on a haircut) and no GM performed career suicide by sending in an offer sheet.
The Stamkos pseudo-drama was really the highlight of an off-season that GM Steve Yzerman put together in an efficient and lack luster manner. There was no mesmerizing of other teams in cap-dumping deals or deals that brought back beloved ex-Lightning players. Well unless you really liked Michel Ouellet, which I’m going to guess isn’t many of you.
Sure, play-off hero Sean Bergenheim took the money and his talents to South Beach but, for all he did last year, in the end he was a third line winger. Third line wingers are replaceable and hopefully Ryan Shannon shows that. Oh yeah, he re-signed ageless net minder and instant local hero Dewayne Roloson. So now we don’t even have a goalie controversy to bitch about during the pre-season. No fun at all that Yzerman guy.
Since there is nothing really exciting to talk about in the NHL right now (soccer kits!) the focus has returned to young Mr. Sidney Crosby and the condition of his brain. Depending on whose Tweets you read first he is:
A. locked in a dark room and moments away from retirement
B. scaling back his workouts as the new season approaches and there is nothing more to see here, move along, move along. Hey is that Sean Avery beating up a cop over there?
C. a whiney, untalented, poster boy for a league run by a midget megalomaniac who wants to annex Canada.
We can all agree that if the worst is true and he does have to retire, it will make for the greatest “What if” in hockey since Mario hurt his back. As in, “What if Sidney hadn’t gotten hurt, would he have challenged for second place in all the record books?”
“What if Crosby hadn’t gotten hurt, who would have had more goals- him, Stamkos or Ovechkin?”
“What if he hadn’t gotten hurt, would all of that Crosby-hate not been turned on Stammer?”
You can imagine the rest of the awkwardly phrased scenarios yourself. Go ahead, I actually have to go make lunch so I’ll give you some time.
OK. Where were we? Oh yea, now I remember. So despite him having missed anymore time since the end of last season we’re experiencing another round of Crosby Concussion Concern. Let’s face it folks, no one other than Sidney Crosby himself knows if he’s going to miss any games next season. As a matter of fact, he probably doesn’t even know.
Unlike a knee injury or a broken nose, there is no physical benchmark to know when you’re completely over a concussion. One day you can’t workout without seeing spots, the next day you can. There really is no rhyme or reason, and most frustrating no way to rehab it. If you blow out your knee you know that you can get surgery and then it’s a matter of doing your physical therapy and it will heal.
What can you do for a concussion? Nothing. Literally. That’s what you do. Nothing.
I don’t think Crosby’s career is over. It might be delayed, but I think he will be back. In the end, this will be a tale of a team and a player taking the safest possible route to dealing with an injury. Unfortunately, with the insatiable need for news that dominates sports these days, doing nothing is sometimes bigger news than doing something.