NHL Odds and Ends for Thanksgiving Eve (US) or ‘Thursday’ (Canada)

NHL Odds and Ends for Thanksgiving Eve (US) or ‘Thursday’ (Canada)&h=235&w=320&zc=1

There’s only two games on the board for Thursday which gives me a chance to rant a bit on hockey topics. Things will be back to normal on Friday with game handicapping, etc.


It’s no secret that ESPN buries the NHL because they have no financial stake in the game. If you were an alien that had just landed on earth, you’d think the WNBA and Serbian Knife Fighting were more popular sports based on how ESPN covers them. A bigger problem–when they do cover the NHL it’s at best ‘very bad’ and at worst ‘designed to undermine the popularity of the league and it’s biggest stars’. Case in point–a few days ago Edmonton Oilers’ superstar Connor McDavid got his first career hat trick. ESPN covered it but check out this blurb from their main page:

“Connor McDavid, the first overall draft pick in 2015, ended a 10-game goalless stretch in style in the Oilers’ 5-2 win.”

It’s technically correct. Connor McDavid hadn’t scored a goal in ten games. The problem is that only a dope that didn’t know much about hockey and hadn’t paid attention at all this season would write it that way. It’s also the only way you could word a sentence to make it sound like #97 is underachieving this year or is ‘in a slump’. He’s in one of those awful ‘1.2 points per game, leading the NHL in scoring and assists’ slumps. He’s got 8 goals on the season tying him with a bunch of other guys for 10th. That might be fewer goals than you’d think he’d have but that 16 assists is pretty good. Heading into Thursday’s game against Colorado he had ‘slumped’ to the NHL lead in assists.

More importantly, when a 19 year old with insane skills doesn’t *need* to score to make his presence felt in games that’s a ‘feature not a bug’. There’s been plenty of times during his 10 game ‘slump’ where he passed up a decent shot because a teammate had a better shot. This is called “what forwards are supposed to do”.

And think back to the Oilers’ struggles in recent seasons. They’ve had a ton of offensive talent but couldn’t win games because they didn’t have a ‘set up man’ to get the puck to guys like Eberlie and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Now they do. McDavid probably could have 15 or 16 goals by this point but he’s more concerned with doing what is most needed of him to help the Oilers win games. That’s called ‘team leadership’ and why he’s got the ‘C’ at the ripe old age of 19.

And that’s why ESPN is the ‘worldwide leader’ in name only. I really don’t mind them shamelessly promoting sports in which they do have a financial stake. It might be hard to buy the concept that the entire sports world is hanging on the results of a meaningless early season NBA game but at least this type of promotion makes sense. To ‘bury’ a sport and to go out of their way to report ‘news’ in a negative light is another matter entirely.

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