And just like that, the 2013 NHL season is over with. Quick, right? I know, but that’s what you get when a lockout threatens to cancel another season under the reign of commissioner Gary Bettman. But alas, there was a season played after all consisting of 48 games and after all the hubbub and chaos, the first round playoff match-ups are set. There are some good ones and of course there are some that will end horribly, and I am here to straighten them out for you and get you informed heading into the postseason. Let’s get to it…
Wait, a fun fact before we get started: This is the first time all “Original Six” teams qualified for the playoffs in the same season since a long time ago.
(1) Chicago Blackhawks vs. (8) Minnesota Wild
The Blackhawks enter the playoffs as President’s Trophy winners after finishing with the highest point total through the season. They are a dangerous folk top-to-bottom with great players in all areas and have showed it throughout the year. They started off 21-0-3 and though they kind of went through a rough patch through the middle of the season, they regained their composure and come into the playoffs as the favorites to win it all.
Meanwhile, the Wild are one of those teams you look at and say “What is going on?” They acquired the two biggest prizes on the free agent market this past off season in forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter, they have a solid goaltender (Niklas Backstrom) and have a bunch of other talented pieces that should have made them a title favorite. But alas, they were as inconsistent as any playoff team in recent memory and limp into the playoffs by the skin of their teeth. They are not a confident group right now in my eyes and are staggering.
While both of these teams were prohibitive favorites entering the season, only one appears to be gelling at the right time and that’s Chicago. They score at will and shut down opposing teams with a ruthless defense, and those are bad signs for slumping Minnesota.
• WINNER: Blackhawks in 5 (more…)
BY JOHN SCOTT, Couchsideshow.com contributor
Every four years when the Olympics come around, there’s talk about whether professional hockey players should be allowed to compete in the Winter Olympics.
In all honestly, I think pro hockey players should not be allowed to compete in the Olympics, mainly for two reasons: fame and fortune. A little more than half of the men’s hockey players compete in the NHL, and some teams are made up entirely of NHL players. The 2014 Olympics is Sochi, Russia, should mainly be comprised of amateur athletes representing their country.
Amateur hockey players should be the ones putting on their country’s jersey because they play the game out of love, not for money. Most Olympic athletes receive monetary support from their country, but these amateur players would much rather play for the love of the game. Many NHLers already make seven figures per year and compete in an 82-game season, sometimes more. They’ve already made it to the top of the hockey level, and it’s time for them to let amateurs take the Olympics. Maybe these amateurs competing in the Olympics can get noticed and move on to a higher level of hockey, such as the NHL.
Also, the NHL players already have the fame in the sport, so why not step aside to let the not-so-popular players noticed? Let the countries show how good they are by the amateur players they can produce, not by how many NHLers they can send to the Olympics.
Five words: 1980 USA Olympic Hockey Team. Done. That’s all that needs to be said. This team was a true Olympic team, consisting of 20 college players who ended up beating the supposed unstoppable Sovies. Those are the teams I want to see in the Olympics, and I’m pretty sure I speak for most hockey fans on this one.
Herb Brooks nailed it when he said, “All-Star teams fail because they rely solely on an individual’s talent,” and this quote can go both ways, for All-Star teams and for Olympic teams. The Olympic hockey teams would be better and more fun to watch if they consisted of amateur players because they wouldn’t rely on an individuals talent. Instead, they would work as a team just like the 1980 team did.
Allowing only amateur players in the Olympics would allow for them to showcase their skills to world, and to let the world see outstanding amateurs they wouldn’t have been able to see if professional hockey players were allowed to play.
Who would not want to see another team like the 1980 Olympic team? Going back to amateurs in the Olympics would put the Olympics back where they should be. Who wouldn’t want to see another Olympics like that in Lake Placid in 1980 and to be able to say they witnessed the impossible happen?
John Scott is a junior at Cody High School and longtime youth hockey player in the Wyoming region.