Morning Reading List: Golden Rivalry Boosts NHL
The Capitals' season may have ended with a thud in Game 7 against the Penguins, but the matchup did more for the NHL than any playoff series in recent memory: It brought hockey back into the fold.
Yes, to most longtime hockey fans, the series was an epic one for far more reasons than the Ovie-Crosby rivalry. But star power -- like Larry Bird vs. Magic Johnson -- grows the game, and the NHL's no doubt got it.
Now, do they know what to do with it? From Forbes:
"If they want to build the league, they have to build off their stars," says sports marketing consultant Bob Dorfman of Baker Street Advertising in San Francisco. "You want to see them in ads, see them as ambassadors for the league." One thought: Get them into a humorous McDonald's ( MCD - news - people ) spot facing off for a Big Mac, a la Bird and Jordan shooting it out for the double-patty burger in a game of H.O.R.S.E. With Ovechkin and Crosby, both 23, the league has a potential foundation for a rivalry of appealing stars for the next decade.
Crosby's actually 21, not 23, but it's an interesting read anyway -- really all you can ask for when your team's out of the playoffs. Check it out.
More Caps-Related Distractions
The Caps' Mike Vogel takes a look at Ted Leonsis's 10 eventful years as team owner. (WashingtonCaps.com)
Here's an interesting letter to the editor from The Hockey News:
Alex Ovechkin is one of the most exciting players to watch in the NHL. His offense abilities are far beyond humanly possible. Living in New Jersey, I don't get to see his games much, but during the playoffs I get exposed to his true, but strictly offensive talent.
As I watched the Penguins-Capitals series I noticed whenever Ovechkin does not have the puck he just glides around the ice as though he is not trying. I was very upset to see this because if he played defense the way he plays offense he would be a much better all-around player.
-- Ethan Weg, East Brunswick, N.J.
Hmm. Do you agree with Ethan Weg of East Brunswick, N.J.'s assessment?
Here's what Evgeni Malkin had to say when asked about the main difference between Washington and Carolina: "This is an entirely different team. [Carolina] also have a good goalie, but I think that the defense is better. They play very tight. The Capitals cannot say that. But [the Capitals] have better forwards. It turns out that Carolina is Washington in reverse." (Puck Daddy)
And for even more on the Caps-Pens series, if you can handle it, here's an excerpt from Dave Molinari's Q&A over at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Q: My hope, and I'm sure it's a naive one, is that some of the nonsense between Penguins and Capitals fans over their respective star players is toned down going forward. I think if people can't walk away from that series with good things to say about both Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby (despite some obvious characteristics that are justifiably bemoaned), they just aren't true hockey fans.
Pat, Shakopee, Minn.
MOLINARI: Yes, it would be wonderful if people would act the way you suggest. And yes, you are naive if you believe there's any chance of that happening. (Unless, if course, it's part of some divine trifecta that includes peace in the Middle East and an end to hunger throughout the world.) The unfortunate reality is that some members of every team's fan base seem to believe the best way to demonstrate loyalty to their club is to be as uncivil, if not downright juvenile, as possible when discussing players on rival teams. So some people who don't like the Penguins won't criticize some aspect of Sidney Crosby's on-ice performance, but instead will call him "Cindy." And Penguins fans who don't care for the Capitals don't focus on a flaw in Ovechkin's game -- say, his less-than-total commitment to defense -- and instead talk about how he looks like a caveman.
The loss, ultimately, is theirs. There's nothing wrong with having fierce ties to a particular team -- in fact, a serious commitment by fans adds a valuable dimension to any game -- but people who can't appreciate the brilliance of a particular player simply because of the sweater he wears are denying themselves a chance to enjoy some of the greatness that makes this game so special.
That doesn't mean Penguins and Capitals partisans should swap their Ovechkin and Crosby sweaters before the first game between the teams next season, join hands and offer up a rousing chorus of "Kumbaya," but there's no reason to think that respecting the talents of players on the other team would detract from the rivalry. There's even less reason to believe that will happen.
Priceless answer. Nobody wants a group hug -- the passionate mutual "dislike" will do just fine, thanks.
Chris Pronger's departure from the Ducks could be tied to the future of fellow defenseman Scott Niedermayer. Basically, if you're one of the many Caps fans who'd like to see Pronger in Washington, you should hope that Niedermayer returns to Anaheim. (OC Register)
Mike Wise on Covering Hockey
Here's an excerpt from a great interview with our own Mike Wise on Storming the Crease:
What are some of your favorite hockey-related moments?
My favorite hockey memory is the moment that the New York Times sports editor called me up and said 'we need somebody to do a Pavel Bure story because the Rangers are about to play the Vancouver Canucks maybe in the Stanley Cup finals. Nobody knows about this guy out here, so could you go do a story about him? And, by the way, I know your paper went out of business and this would be a freelance job. Have you ever covered hockey before?'
And, of course, having grown up in Northern California and Hawaii, I said 'I love hockey. I know hockey.' That was 15 years ago, and 15 years later, I still don't know hockey, unfortunately. But that story ended up catapulting me to the Times and I got Pavel Bure to drive me around in his Mercedes and he talked about living in Vancouver and being a star.
That 1994 Pavel Bure story is a fantastic read, by the way. Check it out if you've got the time.
In the System
The Hershey Bears are hoping their depth advantage is enough to wear out the Providence Bruins. (Patriot-News)
Plus, winger Kip Brennan goes overboard on a hit during practice and gets a "verbal blistering" from Coach Bob Woods. (Patriot-News)
Pens vs. 'Canes
Michael Farber says this series is going to be a lengthy one -- the Hurricanes just need a game or two to size up the Penguins. (Sports Illustrated)
Remember Pittsburgh's outrage when Alex Ovechkin didn't get fined or suspended for his hit on Sergei Gonchar? "Following the knee-on-knee collision that injured Carolina Hurricanes left wing Erik Cole in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final, there were no charges of a superstar left wing getting preferential treatment by the NHL. But, there's the question of whether it could serve as a rallying point for the Hurricanes the way it did the Penguins in their previous series." (Tribune-Review)
Wings- vs. 'Hawks
Mikael Samuelsson scored a beauty of a goal 5:14 into overtime to lift the Red Wings to a 3-2 victory over the Blackhawks. Detroit will take a two-game lead to Chicago. (AP)
The Wings have done a pretty good job of shutting down the 'Hawks' Patrick Kane, who's minus-4 through two games. (Kalamazoo Gazette)
Chris Osgood's 100th playoff game was a gem. (Detroit Free Press)
Chris Sprow says the NHL should just let the Coyotes head north to Hamilton -- "For a league that supports 417 players earning a million bucks a year -- compared to 432 in MLB and 372 in the NBA, leagues where the TV contracts go well into the billions -- you'd think the NHL would want to at least give a bad franchise a chance to succeed." (ESPN the Magazine)
Could Patrick Roy be holding off on taking a job in Colorado because he's hoping for an offer to coach the Habs in Montreal? (National Post)
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