NHL 2013: The War on Ice Returns (By: @BWMahoney213)
It’s about time, eh?
Whether you’re a native of Canada or the United States, the sports world had a huge void of hockey action since September when the National Hockey League and the NHL Players Association bickered about a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which extended through a hellish lockout all the way through Sunday, January 6.
Now the tentative agreement is on the table. The NHL PA will post the final CBA memo on their internal website for all 700 players to read and consider on a vote in conjunction with NHL owners voting on a deal Wednesday at 2p.m. at a Board of Governors meeting in New York City.
Once completed, the NHL will suit up for a pipelined 48-game season starting January 19, 2013. Similar to the 2011 NBA lockout (when they started on Christmas Day), the season will be condensed in terms of reserving Eastern Conference teams facing Eastern Conference teams and Western Conference teams facing Western Conference teams to save on the pains of travel.
The 2012 Stanley Cup champions, Los Angeles Kings, will defend their first ever title with mostly the same roster. Their challenge might come from the Minnesota Wild, a team that snatched two top free agents in center Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter.
The 2012 Stanley Cup runner-ups, New Jersey Devils may encounter one last chance to win the Cup with veteran goalie Martin Brodeur. Yet, their star LW Ilya Kovalchuk has been linked to reports of wishing to stay in the KHL while playing amid the lockout.
The Devils’ hated rivals, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Philadelphia Flyers are all on the mend from last season’s roller coaster 2012 playoffs. It was like a food chain of a bigger fish eating the smaller fish—Devils defeated the Rangers, Devils defeated the Flyers, Flyers defeated the Penguins. Each team is dangerous, but the condensed schedule may show their true competitive colors (and occasional spurts of blood) on the ice.
The Penguins will look to reemerge as a champion on the ice with a healthier Sidney Crosby and recent Hart Trophy winner Evgeni Malkin. Their once revered goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is now on the hot seat of stepping up his performance after a deflating post-season.
The Rangers’ John Tortorella has famous tirades, but at least he backs it up. As the number one seed in the Eastern Conference, the Rangers pummeled most opponents with a blue-collar group of players like Ryan Callahan, Michael Del Zotto, and Marian Gaborik. They’ve added star Rick Nash, so there’s more weight to the Rangers’ presence on the ice behind the human stonewall Henrik Lundqvist.
The Flyers only looked forward to their star (and potential new captain) Claude Giroux as cover boy of EA Sports’ NHL ’13. If the game was a video game, the Flyers would’ve won several Cups with impeccable rosters—ranging from stars like Eric Lindros, Peter Forsberg, Chris Pronger, who will likely retire with concussion injures. The Flyers will need all the force they’ve got at defense to help goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, or else there may be consequences in the next off-season.
The Vancouver Canucks, last season’s President Trophy winner (for best overall regular season record) have pressure after tanking to the #8 seed Kings in the post-season. Roberto Luogno is now on the trading block, so look for some controversy to brew or settle down with the Canucks.
The Western Conference from the top down is full of contenders within the Central division—the St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators, Chicago Blackhawks, and Detroit Red Wings. The Blues fizzled (thanks to the Kings) after a glorious run even with two stout goalies—Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak from the playoffs. The Nashville Predators spent a mammoth amount of money at their star defenseman Shea Weber. The Blackhawks are trying to get back to speed from their 2010 Cup run while the Red Wings are finally moving on from legendary defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom. The Edmonton Oilers have a few skilled stars in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov looking to revive that decimated franchise.
It’s too foggy to forecast any possible Stanley Cup predictions, but for what it’s worth, the euphoria of skates gliding on ice and bone-jarring hits against the boards with a quick sprint to a Stanley Cup in the summer.
Tags:Blood On The IceBoard Of GovernorsCollective Bargaining AgreementHockey ActionIlya KovalchukKhlLos Angeles KingsMartin BrodeurNational Hockey LeagueNba LockoutNew Jersey DevilsNew York RangersNhl OwnersNhl Players AssociationPhiladelphia FlyersPittsburgh PenguinsRoller CoasterRunner UpsRyan SuterStanley Cup ChampionsZach Parise