A few years from now when I look back at the Summer of 2010, I might share a few stories from the fireworks on July 4th to the many barbecues and everything else in between. From a hockey perspective, the Summer of ’10 saw many story lines play itself out during the off-season.
While the Ilya Kovalchuk saga got tiresome after his first contract was rejected, there were some rather interesting stories that were told both before and during Kovy-gate. First there was Draft day and the Oilers’ down-to-the-wire decision of selecting Taylor Hall over Tyler Seguin with the No. 1 overall pick back in June; then there was the Free Agency period (or lack thereof) on the 1st of July, and of course in between we saw the “fire sale” in Chicago begin just days after the Blackhawks won their first Stanley Cup since 1961 (congratulations Maple Leafs fans, you now officially have the longest current Cup drought in the NHL).
Blackhawks’ roster for 2010-11
Gone from the Blackhawks are Dustin Byfuglien, Brent Sopel, Antti Niemi, Kris Versteeg and Andrew Ladd and enter Marty Turco, Fernando Pisani, Jeff Taffe, Jassen Cullimore and Viktor Stalberg. While the additions aren’t anything to write home about, the Hawks are still in pretty good shape, especially for a team who had major cap issues at the beginning of the off-season.
For one, Chicago still has the top defensive pairing in the league with Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook and Brian Campbell. With Campbell and Niklas Hjalmarsson as the second pairing, Turco should benefit this year in front of one of the league’s best defenses despite the departures. The Hawks should still have a good offense again in 2010-11 with Troy Brouwer – who I see having a breakout season in 2010-11 – and a healthy Dave Bolland.
Do I expect the Hawks to repeat as Cup Champions? No. But do I see them as one of the top teams in the West? Even with the changes, I can still see them potentially reaching the Western Conference Finals for a third straight year despite the off-season overhaul.
I really don’t know what hasn’t been said about this already; all I know is that after this mess that another lockout could be on the horizon when the current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires in 2012. While the NHL and NHLPA came to an agreement early Saturday morning to approve the Kovalchuk contract, I’m still not too optimistic about an agreement on a new CBA. With the rumors of Donald Fehr becoming the new executive director of the NHLPA, there’s still reason to believe that the “hockey apocalypse” might be upon us after the 2011-12 season.
Sure, Fehr might be one of those leaders that the PA needs right now. After all, with the seeming lack of leadership from the group in the post-lockout era, Fehr would seem like the logical choice and would help solidify the PA’s message for these next negotiations: that they would be ready to go to war with the owners if they have to.
But the hiring of Fehr may not be the best thing for the PA either. While he was instrumental in 1995 in getting a deal done to get baseball stars back on the field – without the use of any replacement players – the fact is Major League Baseball suffered a great deal during the Strike of 1994-95, which of course led to the cancellation of the World Series in ’94. So there is somewhat of a dark cloud that will remain with him due to the past.
But, there is more good than bad with Fehr as the Executive Director of the current mess that is the NHLPA. And since the NHL and the NHLPA finally came to an agreement on the Kovalchuk deal, maybe there is a small window of hope that the two sides can agree on a new CBA.
I know its been a couple of weeks since Puck Daddy ran this story with the Rangers’ new policy in regard to access into their locker room for postgame interviews (both home and away). Our own Jake Duhaime posted this response shortly after Puck Daddy editor Greg Wyshynski posted the original story.
It’s no secret that some teams – like the Rangers and Oilers – aren’t too receptive to credentialing bloggers. While other teams – such as the Capitals and the Bruins – have been very receptive in terms of bloggers requesting credentials.
This debate has gone on for a few years since the post-lockout era, and at first I can understand why some teams were a little concerned about credentialing bloggers. Back in 2006, the blogosphere was just starting to take place and journalism itself was just starting to go into the digital world. But as blogs and the social media sites have continued to grow, most teams have become pretty receptive in terms of their policies, particularly to established, legitimate sites.
While this story ran back in 2007 on Hockey Night in Canada, it is still an interesting clip to see three years later in lieu of this ongoing debate:
As far as my experience with the media relations staff from the Rangers, they have been very receptive to me in the past and I have nothing but nice things to say about them. However, I have not dealt with the media relations staff with the Oilers so I will not comment about that.
What I will say about this debate is that it’s time to change with the times. The world of journalism is morphing into the digital world by the second. Traditional mainstream media has established an online presence with their own blogs from team beat writers and through Twitter and other forms of social media. These forms of new media have helped the growth of the sport in the post-lockout era, and any type of growth in coverage is only a good thing, especially for the NHL.
While the summer of ’10 provided some interesting storylines in the NHL, the 2010-11 season is vastly approaching. So enjoy those Labor Day barbecues to celebrate the “unofficial end of summer” because Training Camps are nearly a week away!