Although it was a quiet week in the NHL, most of my takes this week are not COVID-19 related. We could all use some positive news. On that note, today is my 25th birthday, so please include your birthday wishes in the comments. Stay safe everyone!
1. NHLPA Releases Player Poll
Each year, the NHLPA polls each player in the NHL on a variety of topics from best forward to favorite mascot. The results were released and there are a few notable ones I thought I would share my opinion on. You can find the complete poll results here.
McDavid and Crosby Are Kings
Many of the “On-Ice” categories were dominated by Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid. McDavid was voted as the best forward, capturing 68 percent of the vote, a staggering number when you consider that that leaves 32 percent for Crosby, Nikita Kucherov and Nathan MacKinnon combined. Crosby was second with nearly 15 percent. The two superstars were also one and two as the player at any position you would want on your team if you had to win one game. This time, Crosby came in first, capturing 44 percent of the vote to McDavid’s 30 percent. Crosby was also voted the most complete player by his peers, with 45 percent of the vote. I’m not here to say of the players got it wrong or right. However, it’s clear that Crosby and McDavid are at the forefront of everyone’s minds when their skates touch the ice.
Thachuk and Doughty Can’t Get Rid of Each Other
One of the more surprising and funny results was in the best bromance category. Most of the results were to be expected. David Perron and Ryan O’Reilly of the Blues led the way with over 6 percent of the vote. The rest of the top vote-getting pairs were also not surprising. Joe Thornton/Brent Burns, Tyler Seguin/Jamie Benn, and Auston Matthews/Mitch Marner were some of the other duos that received a notable percentage.
But, the duo that received the fourth-highest percentage, with 3.67 percent of the vote, was Matthew Tkachuk and Drew Doughty. The two players famously hate each other and their beef has been a hot topic in hockey circles over the last two seasons. It’s hysterical that so many players would nominate these two goons for best bromance.
No Love for the Red Wings
I try my best not to talk too much about the Red Wings, seeing as they’re my favorite team. But there was one category where they deserved more love. One of the questions was, “Which team has the best jersey?” The Blackhawks received 28 percent of the vote! Personally, I think the Hawks have the worst uniform of the Original Six teams. It’s still a classic, but it’s my least favorite. I know that doesn’t mean much because I’m biased, but whatever. The Red Wings didn’t even crack the top five! That’s blasphemy!
All the Original Six franchises have great jerseys. So, if the Wings were beat out by those teams, it would have been okay. But, the Golden Knights placed second with 6 percent of the vote! That’s ridiculous. I think the Knights have decent jerseys. But, I remember when they came out and I was very disappointed. The red, gold, black, and gray color scheme just doesn’t work for me. For the Wings to finish behind the Golden Knights makes me furious. At least the Wings finished third in the “Best visitors dressing room?” category.
A special shoutout to Gritty for finishing first and receiving over 69 percent 😉 of the vote in the “Who is the best NHL team mascot?” category.
2. A Trick Shot for Your Thoughts
Again, shoutout for the NHL for being just as content-starved as everyone else and literally posting anything. However, they did post a sick video last week that I thought was worthy of sharing with all of you. There’s something about a great hockey trick shot that never gets old. In this edition, this kid flips the puck off a tree. He waits for it to come right back to where he shot it from, rips it top-corner off the post, all while avoiding the trees. Props to this kid for spending god knows how many hours on this. I want to personally thank him for making my time scrolling through Instagram for hours on end just a bit better.
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3. Hockey Players Continue to Help
For my fist COVID-19 related take this week, I want to highlight the generosity of a few of the best Russian players in the league. Last week, Rangers’ Artemi Panarin, Islanders’ Semyon Varlamov, and Panthers’ Sergei Bobrovsky helped arrange a donation of N95 facemasks for local hospitals. With COVID-19 cases ramping up in the United States, these masks have become an important commodity. They are so sought after that many are buying them up for themselves.
Thankfully, these three guys, all of whom are very rich, got involved in their community and donated the masks. A lot of people criticize athletes for not getting involved in their communities as much as they should. No one can say anything about these three now. Especially with the severity of what’s going on, their donation will go a long way to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.
4. Barabanov Could Soon Make the Jump to NHL
Alexander Barabanov’s agent, Dan Milstein will begin interviewing interested NHL teams today. Toronto and Arizona remain the frontrunners at this stage. Both clubs have been working on the Russian forward for almost two years.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) March 31, 2020
Surely, Barabanov would be a huge get for the cash-strapped Leafs. With so many handsomely-paid players on their roster, they’re starved for any player that can produce at a lower cost. Barabonov would be a huge add for the Yotes, too. As I talked about recently, any offense is needed in Arizona.
Barabanov was never drafted by an NHL team. The 25-year-old is in his seventh year with KHL giant SKA St. Petersburg. Barabanov is a right-winger who can make plays. Last season was his breakout year, where he posted 17 goals and 29 assists in 58 games.
With COVID-19 forcing the league to hit the pause button on games, that doesn’t mean teams can’t look to get better in the meantime.
5. NHL Postpones Awards, Combine, and Draft
I saved the worst news for last. In a press release delivered on March 25th, the league announced the postponement of the NHL Awards, Scouting Combine, and Entry Draft until further notice. Here is the NHL’s press release:
NEW YORK / TORONTO – The National Hockey League today announced the postponements of the 2020 NHL Scouting Combine, the 2020 Bridgestone NHL Awards, and the 2020 NHL Draft, which were originally scheduled for June 1-6 in Buffalo, N.Y., June 18 in Las Vegas, and June 26-27 in Montreal, respectively, due to the ongoing uncertainty resulting from the coronavirus.
The location, timing and format of the 2020 NHL Draft (and Draft Lottery) will be announced when details are finalized.
With respect to the Bridgestone NHL Awards, the League looks forward to returning to Las Vegas in the future. Las Vegas has been the home of the Bridgestone NHL Awards since 2009.
Although this news was probably expected, it also means that we probably won’t see players hit the ice until after that date. That’s scary because it means that the rest of this season or part of next season is firmly in jeopardy. Obviously, each of these events plays an integral role in the NHL calendar. We can only hope the league finds time to reschedule them when COVID-19 is contained. It’s the right decision for now. But we are all wondering, when are we going to get some good news. ■