|How About A Real Tribute To Warren Strelow
|Stars’ president Jim Lites hit the nail on the head when he said, “[the Nashville Predators] take and take and take and take and never give back, and I'm sick of it.” The Predators failed to honor Mike Modano when he became the all time leading goal scorer among American born hockey players. And they failed to acknowledge the passing of Warren Strelow, the San Jose Sharks’ goaltending coach, on Wednesday night in their first round series home opener against the San Jose Sharks. There was no video tribute, no moment of silence, nothing at all for one of the most influential men in United States hockey.
Strelow has been a big part of United States hockey, yet I assure you that more Canadians could tell you who he was than American hockey fans. Just a reminder he was an assistant coach to Herb Brooks both for the 1980 U.S. “Miracle on Ice” Olympic team, and at the University of Minnesota. He also did work with the 2002 U.S. team which took home the silver. It wasn’t until 2004 he was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.
He was also the first ever full-time goaltending coach when he signed on with the Washington Capitals in 1983, where he would remain until 1989. The Capitals’ took home one Jennings Trophy in his tenure with the Caps. In 1990 through 1993 he would serve a similar role with the New Jersey Devils.
In 1997 he joined the San Jose Sharks, and it was his tenure there where he would make his biggest contribution to the National Hockey League. In the 2000-01 season he would send four Sharks goalies to All-Star Teams in their respective leagues: Evgeni Nabokov (NHL), Miikka Kiprusoff (AHL), Terry Friesen (WCHL) and Johan Hedberg (IHL).
Strelow has coached players who have won two Calder Trophies (awarded to the top rookie) and three Vezina Trophies (awarded to the top goaltender). Martin Brodeur won the Calder Trophy in 1994, Nabokov did it in 2001. Brodeur won the Vezina Trophy in 2003 and 2004, Kiprusoff won the Vezina in 2006.
Would it have been that hard for the Predators to show a clip from the movie Miracle? A couple shots of Martin Brodeur, Mikka Kiprusoff, Vesa Toskala, and Evgeni Nabokov on the JumboTron would have sufficed. They could have left off Toskala and Nabokov because they were on the Sharks and I would have been happy. A simple speech from the Owner, President, or Head Coach would have worked. A moment of silence would have been fine to and not hard to do. Without people like Warren Strelow there would not be teams like the Atlanta Thrashers, San Jose Sharks, Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers, or those Nashville Predators.
Turn on the Sharks versus Predators in game 3 of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs on Monday, April 16th, to see the proper way to honor a great. They gave Luke Robitaille of the Los Angeles Kings, who never donned a Sharks’ sweater but instead broke their hearts a few times, a proper send off in 2006. Which can be seen here. Imagine what they will do for one of their own.
Posted by Josh Pearlstein at 4/12/2007 9:25:00 PM
|Poor Philly Flyers
|In yet another blow to the down and almost out Flyers, they slipped out of the top spot in the upcoming draft when the Chicago Blackhawks went from fifth to first in Tuesday's lottery. The top of this year's draft is really a log-jam with a handful of guys talented enough to go first overall. But still -- hasn't this team been beaten down enough already?
Posted by Janet Eagleson at 4/10/2007 10:34:00 AM
|The "Big Four" Once Again?
|I do not want to be just another person that is going to complain about the state of the NHL and the job that commissioner Garry Bettman is doing or has done; as anyone can find a column stating just that on any sports website. But, I also do not disagree with what some of the columnists are saying about the unbalanced schedule and how a switch from Versus to any competent network is a must.
In such an important season as the NHL looked to build on their success from last season, it looked as if the league heads were doing their best to destroy it. The poor out of conference scheduling, leaving some Western Conference teams without a chance to see the future of the NHL in Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin, could have hurt league attendance. In place of facing every team there were eight games against each division opponent. This could have also hurt league attendance as teams were almost guaranteed to play at least one bad team eight times. It also could have inflated records getting teams into the playoffs that did not deserve to be there. Not to mention the baby Penguins could have left Pittsburgh, and not only hurt the city but could have made Super Mario, just Mario.
It in fact looked as if the league was going to fail. Reaching a low during the mid-week All-Star Game (which was scheduled as to not conflict with other sporting events) drawing a .7 rating, 76% worse than the one played in 2004 (USA Today). After the All-Star Events the season took a turn for the better.
The sacrifice of the opposing conference scheduling for the eight games against each division opponent worked out for the best. It resulted in many colossal games between Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks, Detroit Red Wings and Nashville Predators, New Jersey Devils and Pittsburgh Penguins.
None of those, however, matched the last game of the season played by the most intense and longest rivals in the NHL between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens. On the line was the eighth seed going into the final day of the season. The Maple Leafs took the game 6-5. But the New York Islanders defeated division rival New Jersey Devils by way of a shootout in their eighth meeting of the season, leapfrogging the Maple Leafs on the final day.
In fact the season ended up much better than anyone could have ever thought. As the trade deadline was exciting and dramatic unlike the NBA deadline. And the playoffs were up in the air until the final days of the season. In fact two division winners and both eight seeds were not crowned until the final two days of the season. The Calgary Flames escaped from one of the largest collapses in NHL history, and they only got into the playoffs because the Colorado Avalanche lost. The Penguins declared they were going to remain in Pittsburgh, and Super Mario once again justified why he is “Super”.
Bettman and company have been given a prime opportunity to increase the popularity of the NHL with the way the playoffs have been set up. Both New York teams, three Canadian teams, two Original Six Teams, Captain Canada, and Sidney Crosby will all be taking part in the NHL playoffs. Not to mention the intriguing storylines in each series.
Can the Buffalo Sabers break the recent trend of President Trophy winners and knockout the New York Islanders? Can the Tampa Bay Lightning keep the regular season trend in which they went 3-1 against the two seed New Jersey Devils? How will the Atlanta Thrashers fair in their first ever playoffs? And can Sid the Kid get the baby Pens out of the first round or will the Ottawa Senators finally go deep into the playoffs?
In the West can Calgary get out of this funk and upset the Detroit Red Wings? Can the Anaheim Ducks live up to their Stanley Cup expectations or will the Minnesota Wild continue the roll they are on? Will Roberto Luongo carry the Vancouver Canucks like Jean-Sebastien Giguere in the 2003 playoffs or is this the year Marty Turco’s regular season play finally carries over to the playoffs? The same can be asked of Joe Thornton as the Sharks face off in a rematch of last years first round with the Predators.
Based on the way the playoffs picture has shaped up the NHL could regain their spot in the as one of the “Big Four” provided Versus does it right.
Buffalo Sabers over New York Islanders in 5
New Jersey Devils over Tampa Bay Lightning in 6
New York Rangers over Atlanta Thrashers in 5
Ottawa Senators over Pittsburgh Penguins in 7
Detroit Red Wings over Calgary Flames in 4
Anaheim Ducks over Minnesota Wild in 6
Dallas Stars over Vancouver Canucks in 6
San Jose Sharks over Nashville Predators in 5
Posted by Josh Pearlstein at 4/8/2007 9:41:00 PM