Willie O’Ree vs. the Hockey Hall of Fame


Another year has past and it’s another year that Willie O’Ree did not get his call to the Hockey Hall of Fame. It’s also a time where people, while joyed about other players, scratch their heads when it comes to the player who broke the NHL black color barrier (Larry Kwong being the first to break the color barrier in 1948) not being enshrined into the Hall of Fame for the sport. There’s one simple answer to this:

The Hockey Hall of Fame voters are short-sighted and protected by their voting process not being revealed.

That said, they seem to only look at him as a player who played only 45 games in the NHL, while playing almost 800 for a then rival league in the pre-junior Western Hockey League. In the old WHL, O’Ree had 328 goals and 639 points. While it is the Hockey Hall of Fame, it’s few and far between when someone who did not make an impact in the NHL gets into the Hall. However, in this case– there’s a caveat to it all.

Put Willie O’Ree in the Hockey Hall of Fame as a Builder.

The HHOF looks at a builder to be one who contributes to the growth of the sport. There’s been no one who has done that as much as O’Ree, even after his playing days are through. Hell, you can say that since he retired in 1979, he’s been more involved in getting Afro-Americans and Afro-Canadians into hockey than he was while he was playing.

To this day, O’Ree is spoken about by players like Joel Ward and PK Subban about the impact he had on them when they were growing up, even though they probably didn’t see much footage of him playing. O’Ree is the ambassador for the NHL’s “Hockey is for Everyone” initiative and serves as the director of youth hockey for the NHL Diversity program. The footprint he has left outside of the sport, decades after his last shift, is something that never seems to be taken into account when it comes to the Hall of Fame voting.

When you don’t have the person who not only broke the black color barrier in the NHL, but still continues to spread the message of hockey to the Afro-North American community in the Hockey Hall of Fame, there’s not a lot of slack you’ll get from people about it. Especially when you have the ability to put someone into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a Builder. There’s no one who has help build the game of hockey in different segments of the US and Canada as O’Ree has and continues to do.

Don’t make the same gaffe you did with Pat Burns, Hockey Hall of Fame voters. Let’s be able to celebrate the life and times of Willie O’Ree while we still have him around to celebrate with.

Fixing the NHL on TV: NHL Awards

In this format, I’m going to see what could be done by the NHL to help their off-ice product hit a little more with viewers and actually have people give a damn about what they throw on there. Also, what could actually be put onto the NHL Network or NBCSN or wherever and really hit hard. 


I mocked the NHL Awards. I mocked it hard. I mocked it when broadcasting.

Outside of NASCAR, I think it’s the NHL is the only sport that has their awards banquet televised (EDIT: The NBA is putting their awards show on TV for the first time this year). To be honest, it’s very unnecessary and with all the dull sketches, terribly written banter, and awkward moments– shows that it doesn’t need to be on TV at all. But, if the NHL insists on broadcasting it– here’s some things to make it better.

POINT 1: Put it on NHL.TV: The TV aspect doesn’t work. Only 2.3-million people watched the Awards show across the three networks covering it. The fact you needed to actually span this out along with the Expansion Draft showed that no one cared. If you put this all on NHL.TV, not only do more people have to log onto the site and bump those pageviews, but it’s not a big thing for the ratings bug that the NHL, NASCAR, and WWE overly care about.

POINT 2: Don’t force celebrity hosts: Joe Manganiello is a lot of things, but a host of an award show, I don’t think he is. Of course, not entirely his fault, but there were so many other people that hockey people know that could have been in that position. Though, any team who has a host that pays attention to him would go over the top with that stuff, like Manganiello did– hell, if I was host and the Caps won, I’d be intolerable. But Jay Baruchel would have been great in that role, rather than a presenter, hell– put a host of the NHL on NBCSN or Sportsnet there; like Daren Millard or Liam McHugh there. Sure, they aren’t funny– but it’s not meant to be funny. Just put people out there who know how to move from one part to another in an almost seamless way.

POINT 3: Lessen Awkward Moments: Look, that Marcel Dionne thing is bad….like, Joe Namath bad. You know what could have helped that?? Not having odd-ball presenters that don’t have any kind of tie to each other or just meet seconds before they go out on stage. Sure, it’d be boring and all that, but if people know each other– you can have the awkward moments not happen and if there is a bind, they can get out of it better than most. Or just have the host be the presenter of every award, too.

POINT 4: Don’t give them away beforehand: I know there’s some awards we don’t care about as a whole, but if you have to give them away the day before– maybe they’re not worth giving away. Sure, the Expansion Draft helped bump those awards to the day before but maybe they were test driving awards not being televised. Sure, one of the awards was the Mark Messier Award, but as long as someone cares about winning it– they should get the accolades in front of the crowd rather than random assembled media. Of course, they shouldn’t have gotten bump– which leads me to….

POINT 5: Don’t combine anything with it: The Awards should be special and by putting the Expansion Draft with it lessens both allure. There was no need to combine them, especially when you saw how awkward Bill Foley and George McPhee looked on stage during the whole thing. Let the Awards breathe and speak for themselves. No need to mix anything with it.

POINT 6: Enough with the music: There’s no need for the Arkells to be there. I’m sure they’re great in their own right, but I’m sick of the music that the NHL throws at events that hockey fans are pretty “meh” about. Look at Neon Trees at the Draft Fan Fest this weekend– they were a “meh” pick. Is there a need for music?? Probably not– so let’s do away with it except for the All-Star Game and maybe the outdoor games.

Okay, that’s that– it’s the summer and it’s going to be stuff like this that could make things better or marginally watchable. That’s all I want to convey.

My Knights?? MY KNIGHTS!?


It’s what you’ve all been waiting for….and by all, I mean none. It’s my draft list.

A couple of notes– yes, all the trades for Draft picks will mess a lot of this up, as well as side deals. However, the side deal I know will happen (I hope) is that the Capitals make a deal to have George McPhee pick Brooks Orpik to get that contract off the Caps books, but in return, the Caps have to part with a young rostered defenseman, a prospect, and a pick. Steep price, but since they can’t trade the Orpik contract, they need room for elsewhere.

I’m sure this is 100% wrong, I don’t care. Let’s just have fun with it and move along to simming how they’ll do via NHL18.

TEPID TAKE: Jerseys Aren’t THAT Bad


Look– the Nashville Predators jerseys are bad. Like…Sears Christmas Catalog looking bad. But, for me, it’s really the only one that stood out as truly awful in the new Adidas Adizero jersey reveal. The rest of the looks are pretty much the same, but the design of them brought about pretty big reactions. Of course, the Vegas Golden Knights finally getting an identity was a huge get, too.

There are some things I’m annoyed by already by Adidas, one of which is the designers calling them “tops” instead of jerseys. I know it’s just a lingo thing, but if we’re going to try to keep some tradition, let’s keep it at jerseys. Also, some teams stealing the NBA gimmick and putting the Stanley Cup years into the collar just doesn’t sit right– looking at you, New Jersey.

However, there were improvement to me. The Avalanche going back to their old design is a massive upgrade over the tripe they’ve had to deal with the past couple of years. Only when the third jerseys are back will they have a chance to ruin their identity again– but for now, they get a nice pass. The Hurricanes also reverting back to the old school and reintroducing the storm flags is a nice touch.

The biggest thing going in was the Vegas Golden Knights uniforms. Overall, they look like something the German National Team would wear. It’s a nice look, don’t get me wrong, but doesn’t scream Vegas to me. The white gloves with gold cuff and fingers does scream Vegas to me, which I’m glad they were brave enough to make that change and make white gloves not just for All-Star Games anymore.

Overall, the jerseys are kind of buy the book, with the exception of the Minnesota Wild hacking onto the Canadiens mid-stripe look. The biggest thing to overcome for me is going to be collar area, which everyone got a preview to in the World Cup of Hockey. I’m sure they’ll look better on the ice and grow on me as the Reebok Edge eventually did.

More Coverage is More Gooder


With Game Six being the end of the NHL season, NBC took center stage as the Pittsburgh Penguins took home their second straight Stanley Cup and fifth overall to the delight of many and the disgust of many more. However, while NBC did have the game itself, couldn’t the NHL and their rightsholder have done more to make this coverage an even bigger deal for fans??

Full disclosure: I’m a cord-cutter and use SlingTV as my main visual aspect of getting games on top of NHL.TV for coverage. The closest NBC tower is 40 miles away and getting a good reception in this wind field that is North Dakota is near impossible and with the NBC Sports App, you apparently need a cable provider to sign up and have them be cool with it. If you have any ways to legally get around it, then let me know in the comments because my dumbass doesn’t know how to.

Is there a reason the NHL didn’t make a possible series-clinching game one of the biggest events over their networks of coverage?? Granted, NBCSN did have their own stuff to cover, like the new-to-you showing of the Canadian Grand Prix (which had happened that afternoon) that night after their pre-game coverage to Game Six; but why not put NHL Network to work for something like this?? Maybe give hockey fans an alternative to the claptrap they have to endure with NBC’s announcers, like playing the Sportsnet/CBC coverage on the NHL Network to give another aspect of the game with different voices than that of what NBC pushes onto fans.

Sure, it was nice to see the NHL Network play Sportsnet’s “NHL Classic” series where they have pop-up video elements over classic games in a sixty-minute span, but wouldn’t some kind of alternate simulcast be just as good for hockey fans?? Maybe do to the series-clinching games like ESPN does with the NCAA National Championship Football MegaCast in putting different analysts on a simulcast of the game to give their differing opinions.

The second-screen experience is what other sports give their fans. Whether it be through radio calls, enhances stats during the game, or some other alternative to what the main broadcast is, it seems that the NHL has lacked that for a time and is behind on a lot of sports in that nature. Even if it’s just giving an alternative viewing, why not have people watching something rather than be mad at the broadcast team they have now. Hell, why not just get rid of the group of people you have and get new blood in there– but that’s another discussion for another time.

Like I said, NBCSN probably does have other properties they have to show contractually, so they might not be available to pull off this kind of thing, especially when it’s not a one-and-done thing. However, NHL Network hasn’t proved that they are showing anything but reruns of old games or some random animated show hosted by Boomer Esiason. Why not utilize this league dedicated network to the Cup Final series and give fans an alternative and a reason to watch that channel outside of the On The Fly aspect during the season. To do something like that with the Cup-clinching games (at least) could get people to actually tune into the channel and give a fresh spin for those who are overly sick of the NBC talking heads.

I just feel that if you have a big event like the Cup-clinching game, more than just NBC would be the spot to watch, especially when the auxiliary channels deal with the bulk of the post-game after the Cup is won due to local news or some other NBC program coming on after the game’s time-slot.  Make it a big event because it’s the biggest event of the hockey year. Hell, even if you have to do it two or three or four times, why not do it and treat it like a big deal?? Just seems there’s so much to do when it comes to the broadcast that is left on the table by letting NBC keep it to just one channel for the game itself and not give a second-screen experience that other sports give their fans.

Stumping For More Event Diversity

Why is it that the NHL doesn’t like diversity in their pinnacle events?? While the Draft does get moved around frequently, the prospects of the return to Toronto or Montreal– while nice– doesn’t appeal to me not just because I’m a part of the media, but because I’ve been there and won’t get to experience a new location.

That’s why when the NHL announced that the All-Star Game for 2018 would be in Tampa made me tilt my head a little. Not to say that Tampa isn’t a good market to hold it in, as many who have attended events there have said it’s amazing hospitality, but wouldn’t you– as a league– want to shift things around to make sure each market gets a taste of NHL audience traveling there and pumping up the local economy on top of seeing new sights. Tampa last had the All-Star Game in 1999, which happened to be Wayne Gretzky’s last ASG before retiring and he got the MVP in an unsurprising happening.

This past season, Los Angeles had the ASG, 14 years after they last had one and six years after they held a Draft. I get it that LA is a big place for celebrity turnout and a place that people want to be to experience it– but three times in 14 years could be overkill despite the rabid fan base.

While this may seem like an attack on popular markets….it is. When you look at other fan bases who get left out in the cold, you have to look to mainly the East Coast. For me, I’ve never seen a Draft or All-Star Game in the Washington, DC area because the last time they had a big event there was in 1982 and it was in Landover. Long Island/Brooklyn haven’t hosted either since 1983, New York City hasn’t had a big event since 1994; though you could say that the Draft in Newark piggybacked off of New York City being so close.

My point is that there are big fan bases that don’t get these premiere events for one reason or another (maybe they don’t want to bid because it’s too big an undertaking). Sure, some of those places like the DC-area gets outdoor games, but that doesn’t draw fans from the 31 teams, which is nice bank and the ability to get new people to see how great the area is.

Since my ideal location is the DMV-area, I’m sure with the Verizon Center having a lot of other things going on during the ASG and Draft times– it’ll take a lot to get them there. Especially with Vegas coming into play, Edmonton and Winnipeg wanting to get those kinds of events in their arenas that haven’t been explored before, Anaheim and San Jose being left out on a lot of these events, as well. It’s just quite short-sighted for the NHL to not go to places or stump harder for these places to hold these events to diversify the minds of hockey fans.

This is why we get people who don’t know Nashville is a hockey town until they get to a Cup Final. When we went to the 2003 Draft, you could tell that area had a core group of people who loved it and were trying to share the love of it to others, which was rough during their unstable times. Now, it’s finally in full blossom and I know I’m not surprised because I’ve been there. When the eyes aren’t on them in the main events of the NHL, it’s not hard for people to not realize how good a place can be and how amazing the fan base and the cities are in supporting it.

Age of Superstar Trade Rumors


Remember when the “Face of the Franchise” was untouchable and the only way you would get rid of him would be in a Ray Bourque kind of fashion?? Blame the salary cap, extremely long-term contracts, or just knee-jerk reactions, but the idea of teams trading away their most valuable asset has been a very vocal part of the off-season for some fans and pundits alike.

Firstly, the Alex Ovechkin rumors and the ideas of trading the face of the Capitals comes more and more to the forefront after the Caps still haven’t been able to get out of the second round in Ovechkin’s tenure. This is definitely a hard-sell now considering this past season, Ovechkin had a personal-worst season in goals and points for his career during a full-season. Of course, he had only 32 goals during the shortened season of 2012-13, but that was just one-less goal than he had last season. Ovechkin turn 32 when training camps open up and this past season, you could see he was a bit human as his breakaway speed seemed to not be as it once was. For a player who may be starting to trend downward, it’s obvious some people think the Caps would be best to cut their superstar and see what they can get for him.

Name value alone would intrigue some fan bases, sure, but when you look at the long and short of it– I don’t know how much Ovechkin to truly bring back from another team given that the Caps may know something in his attitude or what-have-you off the ice that would make some teams leary. Plus, in a salary cap world, would you want to trade away some of your blue-chip prospects for an aging superstar who could be bottoming out on his career and still has four years (at $9.5M per) on his contract?? Unless you need the boost at the box office, I don’t think it’d be a smart move for the long-term.

Another name that has come up is John Tavares. Granted, Tavares’ situation is much different than Ovechkin. Tavares is on a team that seems to be getting worse before getting better. Couple that with the front office not getting him much support on the ice and his contract coming up at the end of next season, the young sniper will have his name amongst the trade bait heading into next season if a deal is not done with the Islanders before then.

Not only that, but former Islanders star Mike Bossy said that he could see Tavares going to Montreal for a big bunch of young players going the other way to the Islanders. While it is a big lot to get rid of, especially when you look at what Alex Galchenyuk, Mikhail Sergachev and Charlie Lindgren could become; but it does fill the void that the Islanders need for their future. Yet, how productive could he be in the Montreal system and limelight. That said, he does have many years left, as Tavares is on the cusp of his 27th birthday and does have some years left to give.

It’s an interesting time we live in for hockey players being dealt. It used to be that if Wayne Gretzky could get traded, anyone could. However, that adage could morph into, if PK Subban can get traded for Shea Weber– no star player is safe….or something much less clunky.

The Only Time That Splitting in Vegas Doesn’t Make Sense


It seems that the worst idea has become truth, as the selections of the Expansion Draft will be made between the presentations of the NHL Awards. Five picks will be made every two awards according to some sources.

You’d think the NHL would give the Vegas Golden Knights some more respect.

For a team that is in a city that’s all about being bigger than life, having the 31st team in the NHL share time with the NHL’s best seems like the team is getting shafted right from the get-go. Other teams had some sort of an event by themselves, so you’d think that Vegas of all teams and places would be given the same respect. I mean, we won’t have those big boards with the placards of names of the players selected due to it all going digital; yet you would have hope the new players would be put on another pedestal rather than share the spotlight the rest of the league’s greats.

Yet, it does give people a reason to pay attention to the Awards, which have really been just cannon fodder for Twitter to make jokes about the winners, losers, visuals, and musical acts– and rightfully so. Sure, the Draft takes away the lack of caring when it comes to the Awards and when it comes to people not watching them.

Some of the winners may think they’re overshadowed, some of the new Golden Knights may feel the same way– but the NHL feels like they could save a few bucks by combining the thing, so why the heck not, right??

For the NHL, who has a problem with garnering attention, you’d think they’d be the ones to go ahead and make as many events and bring as much pomp and circumstance to this new arrival in the league as is humanly possible. Hell, I joke about Face Off Hockey Show having a 76-Hour Coverage of the Expansion Draft because it’s almost what the NHL needs to do for people to get very hyped about this team coming into the league.

While pairing it to the Awards is good for both things and not have to spend more when you don’t have to, my feeling is that it takes away from both events just enough to make them want to go ahead and separate the two. Luckily, with GM George McPhee’s speedy abilities to make picks, it will probably take little time out of the pauses between awards.