Blake’s Takes: Jerseys in Jersey and Happy Hanukkah

A day late, but better than never! Last week was a huge week around the NHL. This week, I’ll share my thoughts on Evander Kane’s potential return to the ice as well as a dustup involving two of the league’s most frequent offenders.

On a lighter note, a few new uniforms were released last week and they are deserving of my attention. I wrote more than a few words about those uniforms as well another take or two.

Happy Tuesday and Happy Hanukkah!

1. Sharks Waive Evander Kane

The Evander Kane saga continues. The Sharks waived Kane over the weekend and will send him to their AHL affiliate the San Jose Barracuda. Kane’s 21-game suspension for submitting a fake vaccination card expired on Sunday night.

Kane of course was the subject of much controversy over the offseason after he was accused by his wife of domestic violence. It was after he was suspended for the fake vaccination card. Kane is in the fourth year of a seven-year $49 million contract with a $7 million AAV. According to the linked article, the Sharks are willing to retain some of Kane’s salary in a trade. Kane recently switched agencies and is now represented by Gold Star Sports.

Rock bottom is even further down than we thought. After joining the Sharks, Kane seemed to have changed his reputation and his play on the ice was trending up, too. Since the 2016-17 season, Kane scored at least 22 goals each season and scored at least 40 points. He played in 20 playoff games for San Jose in the 2019 playoffs.

Last season, Kane was one of the most popular voices in the hockey community as many looked to him for guidance when it came to fighting racism and the Black Lives Matter movement as they related to the NHL. I frequently wrote about Kane’s positive impact around the league and the great work he did.

His transgressions shouldn’t take away from that positive work, but, his actions are utterly unacceptable and disappointing. I do hope his wife is safe and that situation is resolved safely. For now, we’ll see what the future brings for Kane.

2. Team USA and Canada Release Olympic Jerseys

The two best hockey nations in North American released their Olympic jerseys last week. Here are my takes on Team USA and Team Canada’s newest sweaters they’ll sport in Beijing, China in 2022.

Team USA

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by USA Hockey (@usahockey)

The 2022 Olympics are in China. That means games will air at approximately 7 am EST/6 am CST. That’s not easy to wake up for. I know I didn’t wake up for many games during the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. These uniforms may be the only excuse I need to not wake up to watch my home nation play. These uniforms are horrendous.

I wish I could say they’re just boring. They’re not. They’re tacky and ugly. Horizontal stripes NEVER work. Never. See Northwestern’s football jerseys.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Northwestern Football (@nufbfamily)

The 2010 team had great uniforms. Maybe a good uniform makes a good team? Heck, why not go with the same uniforms you use for every other tournament? These are great!

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by USA Hockey (@usahockey)

To make matters worse, the 2022 Olympics seem to be the USA’s best chance to win since the 2010 Olympics where they won a silver medal. I’ll definitely be happy if they medal, just not as happy as I would be if their uniforms weren’t so bad.

Team Canada

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Hockey Canada (@hockeycanada)

If Team USA got an F, Canada gets a C. These uniforms are just okay. I like the leaf. It’s a bit different than the normal leaf, but it’s not bad. The red leaf looks good. The black leaf is cool but it doesn’t work against a white or red background. If I was only grading the white jersey, these would be great. The other two bring my grade down to average.

3. Bobrovsky is Back

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Florida Panthers (@flapanthers)

The Florida Panthers have been one of the best stories of the season so far. They started the season red hot and are currently in second place in the Atlantic Division. Sergei Bobrovsky has been one of their main contributors so far this season. After a disappointing first two seasons in Sunrise, Bob is back.

After the Columbus Blue Jackets’ amazing run in the 2019 playoffs, Bobrovsky and a few of the other stars in Columbus left for greener (or sunnier) pastures. Bobrovsky signed a huge seven-year deal with the Panthers worth $70 million/$10 million AAV. A contract like that comes with huge expectations. During his first two seasons in Florida, Bobrovsky’s numbers weren’t as hot as the weather. Bobrovsky was 42-27-8, with a .902 sv%, a 3.10 GAA, and one shutout over 81 games in those two seasons. There was even talk that first-round pick Spencer Knight would usurp Bobrovsky as the starter before the halfway point of his contract.

Through 13 games this season, Bobrovsky has silenced the haters. He’s 9-1-1, with a .936 sv%, and a 2.03 GAA. Bobrovsky sits in the top ten of most statistical goalie categories. If the Panthers are going to continue their run of dominance this season and for the next few, they need Bobrovsky to play well, at a minimum. The last thing you want is a $10 million backup goalie. That’s not good for the books.

I’m happy to see Bobrovsky playing well. I can’t imagine being paid $10 million a year to suck. Yes, I’d still be rich, but the media scrutiny would destroy me. Bobrovsky’s play might do a bit more than silence the media. It could earn him a return trip to the 2022 Olympics. Tampa’s Andrei Vasilevskiy will surely be the starter if healthy, but Bobrovsky could earn some time as the backup if he continues his run of form.

4. Devils Make Light of Terrible Jerseys

Speaking of horrible jerseys, the Devils take the cake. The Devils released their third jerseys last week. Have a look.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by New Jersey Devils (@njdevils)

Notice anything? How about the fact it says the word “Jersey” in big, white letters across the front… of the jersey. Obviously, the word “Jersey” refers to New Jersey, where the Devils play. Still, in the era of viral tweets, how did this jersey go into production? That is unless the Devils’ marketing team knew they would get a ton of publicity for creating the world’s most terribly-ironic jersey.

That didn’t stop the Devils from having some fun with all of the negative attention. They created these.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by New Jersey Devils (@njdevils)

This is actually funny. I love how they leaned into the joke. If I was a Devils fan, I would not buy a jersey, but I would certainly buy that hat. This is what you do when someone is mean to you, you lean into it until they have nothing left to make fun of you for. I have nothing to say to the Devils except for they did a great job. You won this round.

5. Brady Tkachuk and Brendan Lemieux Altercation

This story might have been the biggest of the week. During Saturday’s game between the Ottawa Senators and Los Angeles Kings, Sens’ captain Brady Tkachuk and enforcer Brendan Lemieux got into a dustup in the third period. During the fight, it appears as if Lemieux bites Tkachuk’s hand. Lemieux was given a match penalty and ejected from the game. You can watch the entire altercation below.

First off, if there was a fight I wouldn’t want to interrupt, it’s this one. I wouldn’t want to interrupt a fight between anyone with the last name of Tkachuk or Lemieux, to be honest. I wouldn’t have any teeth left after that. That is unless Darren McCarty was on my side.

Anyway, I don’t mind the initial extracurricular activity between the two. Tkachuk is Ottawa’s new captain and Lemieux is an enforcer. They’re both trying to do their jobs. However, I don’t think biting is in Lemieux’s job description. Tkachuk didn’t think so either, here are his thoughts regarding Lemieux trying to eat his hand for a snack.

“Kids don’t even do that anymore. Babies do that. I don’t even know what he was thinking. He’s just a complete brick head. He’s got nothing up there. Bad guy, bad player, but what a joke he is.”

I think biting is out of line. I don’t blame Lemieux for doing it. I’m not even mad that he did. A grinder like Lemieux has to earn his paycheck somehow. If he has to fuck with the captain of another team, then so be it. Think about it this way, who is going to want to scrap with Lemieux after this? I certainly wouldn’t. I don’t want someone else with a piece of my hand between their teeth. While I don’t think it was Lemieux’s intention to bite Tkachuk to mess with his head, it seems like it worked, given Tkachuk’s reaction.

I wouldn’t mind Lemieux getting a one-game suspension. It will hurt his wallet, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth it. I certainly enjoyed the entertainment. ■

Blake Isaacs is a die-hard Red Wings fan that doesn’t go to as many games as he should. He is also a big fan of 7-Eleven Slurpeees, Chipotle, and all things Michigan State. Follow him on Twitter @bisaacs1995.

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