The NHL Off-Season: No Rest for the Wicked

The long, arduous playoff journey has come to an end, and when the final buzzer sounded it was Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins who emerged victorious as the 2009 Stanley Cup Champions.

Make no mistake, congratulations are certainly are in order. After all, the Pens did defeat a very solid Detroit Red Wings team, and did so after falling behind in the series 2-0 after a couple of bad bounces in Joe Louis Arena. They displayed their testicular fortitude (although admittedly not as much as Nicklas Lidstrom) by not backing down and ultimately persevering when they could have simply rolled over and quit against nearly impossible odds.

Yeah, that's nice. Now get back to work, slacker!

Yeah, that's nice. Now get back to work, slacker!

But you know what? All of that is completely and utterly irrelevant. The 2009 NHL season is but a distant memory now, a faint speck of recollection drifting toward the horizon of foggy reminiscence. Indeed, Pens fans, it’s time to stop living in the past — because the 2010 season starts in just over one week’s time!

Football teams get an entire week off between games. Hockey teams get two weeks off between entire seasons.

That’s right. Party’s over. Get the Cup out of Mario’s pool, because with the Draft coming up next weekend and the insanity of Free Agency only two weeks away, there’s a hell of a lot of work to be done.

So many questions to be answered, all with a massive impact on next year …

  • In which city will Dany Heatley continue be a one-dimensional, whiny little bitch? Will Jason Spezza cry himself to sleep once Heatley is finally traded?
  • Who will the Islanders select first overall? John Tavares or Victor Hedman? Or will Garth Snow continue the fine Long Island tradition of trading away can’t-miss prospects for a dozen pucks and a sack of magic beans?
  • Which GM will foolishly overpay for the likes of Mike Cammalleri and the Sedin twins?
  • Will Vincent Lecavalier get traded at the Draft? Even if he doesn’t, he should show up in Montreal wearing a Habs hat, you know, just to mess with the Montreal media. That would be fun.
  • Will Ty Conklin sign with the Boston Bruins, since they are hosting the 2010 Winter Classic? I mean, you can’t have an outdoor game without Conklin, right? It’s in the rulebook, I’m pretty sure.
Ty Conklin loves playing in outdoor games almost as much as he loves losing in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Ty Conklin loves playing in outdoor games almost as much as he loves losing in the Stanley Cup Finals.

  • Just what exactly will Brian Burke do during his first summer with the Maple Leafs? Will he move up in the Draft? Will he sign a big name free agent? Will he make Justin Pogge cry?
  • Will any free agents actually want to come to Montreal, knowing full well they’ll have to play for Jacques Martin? Oh, wait … no free agents wanted to play for the Habs before Martin took over, either. My mistake.
  • Will Marian Hossa sign a deal with Pittsburgh, believing that they now offer him the best chance to win the Stanley Cup?
  • Will Marian Gaborik tear his groin simply by answering the phone on July 1?
  • What type of Reebok-sponsored abominations will various teams unveil for this year’s crop of alternate jerseys?
Somebody actually thought this was a good idea. And they got paid for it.

Somebody actually thought this was a good idea. And they got paid for it.

And those are only a handful of the pressing issues that teams across the league have to contend with over the next couple of weeks. Indeed, it seems as though the NHL season truly never ends (well, I suppose there is that dry patch in August when all of the big name free agents have already been scooped up and the only players left are guys like Anson Carter). But really, as a hockey fan, you gotta love it. It sure beats watching MLB highlights on SportsCentre, that’s for damn sure.

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The NHL All-Brother Team

Unless you’re watching a Vancouver Canucks or Anaheim Ducks game, you don’t usually think about how many amazing brother combinations can be found throughout the NHL. At the moment, we can only see the Sedins and Niedermayers playing together — but what if all of the siblings across the league were all on the same team?

Swedish twins!

Swedish twins!

In response to this question, I’ve decided to assemble my roster for the 2008-2009 NHL “All-Brother” Team. My criteria for picking players was simple — if you played the 2008-2009 season for an NHL team or its AHL affiliate (but have played in the NHL previously), then you were eligible for the team. If you used to play in the NHL but have since high-tailed it to Russia, sorry, but you’re out of luck.

With that being said, here are my picks:

FORWARDS

Daniel Sedin — Henrik Sedin — Milan Michalek

Drew Miller — Eric Staal — Mikko Koivu

Tuomo Ruutu — Jordan Staal — Rob Niedermayer

Peter Schaefer — Saku Koivu — Jarkko Ruutu

Joel Lundqvist

DEFENCEMEN

Niklas Kronwall — Scott Niedermayer

Tomas Kaberle — Marc Staal

Zbynek Michalek — Frantisek Kaberle

Staffan Kronwall

GOALIES

Henrik Lundqvist

Ryan Miller

Nolan Schaefer

You can't argue with success.

You can't argue with success.

Using only brothers, I think we’d have a pretty solid NHL team. The goaltending would be absolutely tremendous between Lundqvist and Miller, and the defence has a healthy mix of puck-movers and stay-at-home guys (although that third pairing looks a little shakey). The only problem I see is up front — while the team is considerably stacked down the middle and the checking line of Ruutu-Staal-Niedermayer is supremely awesome, the lack of scoring wingers could be rather problematic. Call it the “Mats Sundin Syndrome”, if you will.

Of course, I only have myself to blame for that. Based on my criteria, even if you played numerous seasons in the NHL but just recently signed in Russia, then you didn’t qualify. Under those terms, Marcel Hossa was not eligible — which meant I couldn’t put Marian Hossa on this team. And make no mistake, Hossa would have looked pretty nice on that top line with the Sedins.

In creating this roster, I left out a few other eligible sibling duos, such as the Kostitsyns and the Brookbanks, who wouldn’t have really added anything to the team anyway. And if this roster were to be updated next year, there’s no doubt that the Schenn brothers would crack the starting line-up.

So, what do you think of my picks? Anybody missing? Any changes to be made?

Sorry, you're cut. Better luck next year.

Sorry, you're cut. Better luck next year.