From The Point (Of Wit)

By Denis P. Gorman | Posted 22 days ago

The weekend was supposed to be a celebration of hockey.


It was supposed to be a celebration of the best players in the National Hockey League.


It was an opportunity to make news.


It was supposed to be fun.


It was all of that.


The just-concluded NHL All-Star Weekend in Toronto was an opportunity for the hockey world to gather together to honor the league’s best players over four days in a most relaxed atmosphere after those athletes had spent the previous four months competing against each other. 


It also served as a backdrop for NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman to make some news. First was the announcement that NHL players will participate in the 2026 and 2030 Olympic Games. Next was that the league will hold a Four Nations Face-Off in February 2025. The teams will be comprised of NHLers representing the United States, Canada, Finland, and Sweden.  


Also was the revelation that the league has had conversations with dignitaries from Salt Lake City, Houston, Atlanta, Kansas City, and Cincinnati who are interested in bringing the NHL to those municipalities. 


Perhaps the only downer on the weekend was the continued holding pattern that the Arizona Coyotes find themselves in. According to ESPN.com’s Greg Wyshynski, Bettman believes Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo “is focused on one piece of property” which will allow clarity on the team’s viability in Arizona to “be addressed in the next few weeks.”


However, NHLPA Executive Director Marty Walsh was less optimistic, saying the franchise should relocate to another market if an arena proposal has not been submitted by the end of this season.


“The league feels that Arizona is a good market and I can understand that,” Walsh said. “The issue I have and the players have is: how long do you wait to get a home? They’re playing in a college arena and they’re the second tenant in that arena. This is not the way to run a business.”


Arizona’s longstanding arena difficulties aside, the NHL spent four days in one of the league’s foundational cities–Toronto–basking in the spotlight before the season renews.


With that said, we, your friends at OSDBSports.com, will now provide you, dear reader, with a thought or two about each of the NHL’s 32 (for now) teams.


ANAHEIM: Looking at what Calgary and Montreal were able to extract from Vancouver and Winnipeg for Elias Lindholm and Sean Monahan, respectively, general manager Pat Verbeek has to be giddy at what he could get for Adam Henrique and Frank Vatrano.


ARIZONA: A resolution to the franchise’s arena saga.


BOSTON: You remember the hysterical preseason talk about the Bruins being a fringe wild card team after the retirements of David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron? That was a fun minute.


BUFFALO: It’s going to be another Stanley Cup Playoff-less spring in Western New York. 


CALGARY: First-year general manager Craig Conroy was able to pry Andrei Kuzmenko, defensive prospect Hunter Brzustewicz and Joni Jurmo, a 2024 first-round draft pick and a conditional 2024 fourth-round draft pick from Vancouver for Lindholm. Not a bad way to start a rebuild.


CAROLINA: The Hurricanes announced goaltender Frederik Andersen was allowed to be on-ice workouts with the team on Wednesday. Andersen has not played since Nov. 2 due to blood clotting issues. Whether one is or is not or is indifferent to the Hurricanes, it is an unquestionable positive that Andersen has been able to resume his career.


CHICAGO: The draft lottery is on the horizon.


COLORADO: With the addition of Zach Parise, the Avalanche have added offense and a proven playoff performer to a team that isn’t far removed from winning the Cup. The only question about Colorado is whether or not it has the goaltending to win 16 games.


COLUMBUS: There is only two-and-a-half-months left in the season.


DALLAS: The Stars should last longer and be more competitive in the Stanley Cup Playoffs than the Cowboys were in the NFL playoffs.


DETROIT: The Red Wings lead the New York Islanders by six points for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. For a team many figured to be a year away, a playoff berth would be an accomplishment.


EDMONTON: The Oilers pre-Kris Knoblauch: 3-9-1. The Oilers under Kris Knoblauch: 26-6-0 and have won 16 straight.


FLORIDA: If the playoffs started today, Florida would have home-ice advantage in a first round series against the Lightning


LOS ANGELES: What happens when you lose 14-of-17? You get your head coach fired, which is what happened to Todd McLellan Friday.


MINNESOTA: It’s been a long season in the Twin Cities. The trade deadline cannot come fast enough.


MONTREAL: The draft lottery cannot come fast enough.


NASHVILLE: The question for general manager Barry Trotz is whether or not he is willing to part with the organization’s prospects for a trade deadline rental.


NEW JERSEY: Injuries and subpar play have conspired to limit the Devils over the first half of the season-plus. But they are only five points out of third place in the Metropolitan Division.


NEW YORK ISLANDERS: A new coach with a new approach has created a different atmosphere around the Islanders. Will it be enough to power the veteran-laden team into the playoffs?


NEW YORK RANGERS: What do the Rangers need in order to bring Lord Stanley to Broadway for the first time in 30 years? A third-line center to fill in for Filip Chytil, who will not play again for the remainder of this season with what is thought to be a concussion, for one. 


OTTAWA: Like Minnesota, the trade deadline cannot come fast enough in the Canadian capital.


PHILADELPHIA: The Jack Adams race for coach of the year should be down to Knoblauch and John Tortorella, who has Philadelphia in third place in the Metropolitan Division.


PITTSBURGH: A fountain of youth for, well, most of the roster.


SAN JOSE: Like Montreal, the season cannot end fast enough in Silicon Valley.


SEATTLE: It’s not usually a positive to ask what the identity of a team is nearly two-thirds of the way through a season.


ST. LOUIS: It’s not usually a positive to ask what the franchise’s overarching vision is nearly two-thirds of the way through a season.


TAMPA BAY: Is this the final run for one of the great dynasties of the post-2004 lockout?


TORONTO: A goaltender would be nice. Another all-situations defenseman, too. Maybe some forward depth. Cap relief.


VANCOUVER: Rick Tocchet has done an incredible job guiding the Canucks to what seems to be the franchise’s first berth in the playoffs since 2019-20.


VEGAS: Getting healthy seems to be priority one for the defending Stanley Cup champions.


WASHINGTON: Perhaps the most fascinating team to watch at the deadline. Brian MacLellan should sell off and stockpile prospects and picks. But they are one of four teams–along with the Islanders, Penguins, and Devils–who are within shouting distance of the Flyers. Is the temptation to play playoff hockey going to override practicality?


WINNIPEG: Acquiring Monahan for two draft picks–a first in 2024 and a conditional third in 2027–is a solid bit of business for a team that’s been strong all year.   

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