The NHL is Back!October 3, 2018
BY: Nick Gendreau, Hockey Analyst
The 2018-2019 NHL campaign is set to begin tonight with the reigning Stanley Cup Champions Washington Capitals, opening up at home against the Boston Bruins. There are six other teams that are slated to begin their season tonight as well including the debut of John Tavares and Erik Karlsson with their new teams. Along with the games comes some news to discuss as well including a suspension given out to a major name on a major team as well as a youngster earning the right to wear the ‘C’ on his jersey. Hockey is back baby, let’s go.
First things first for the team that finished on top of the hockey world in June, the Washington Capitals and their fans will have the opportunity to watch their 2018 Stanley Cup Champions banner get raised to the rafters in D.C. The probably still hungover Alex Ovechkin will have one of the biggest smiles on his face as the moment happens and it should add a little more fuel to the team to try and earn their first two points of the season. BUT those Caps players celebrated hard this summer, so hard that a new rule had to be implemented by the league disallowing keg stands with Lord Stanley’s Cup, so perhaps that “Stanley Cup hangover” will apply to the team this year. But for now, they get to enjoy the moment one last time before putting all their focus on this year. Unfortunately, one player will be allowed to enjoy the banner raising on the ice but will not play in the game tonight and that is fiery, tough, and skilled forward, Tom Wilson who was given a suspension of 20 games without pay for his dirty hit on Oskar Sundqvist from the preseason game on September 30th. Wilson of course has a long history of fines and suspensions during his career in the NHL and now he must surrender practically one quarter of his season for a stupid play during a meaningless preseason game. Come on Tom, you just shined in the playoffs playing with Ovechkin on the first line and got paid over the offseason. I guess he will have to wait to get a taste of that money.
It is hockey night in Canada with a show down between the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Obviously, the biggest news of the offseason was John Tavares choosing to leave the Islanders to sign with his hometown team in Toronto. Tavares is just another dangerous weapon to the Maple Leafs offense, joining the likes of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, who is still waiting for a contract but may not get it so we will cross that bridge at another time. Anyways, yes Tavares is going to steal the spotlight tonight in Canada because him playing is bigger than Carey Price coming back from an injury ridden season last year. Price really has nothing to look forward to this year other than potentially getting traded to a contender towards the trade deadline this season. Montreal’s roster is all out of whack and was forced to trade their captain, Max Pacioretty, to the Vegas Golden Knights. Sure, Pacioretty had an off year last year but can you blame him when the team was out of the playoff picture by December? It sucks for the NHL that Montreal is a mess because they have so much history, and it sucks for Bruins fans because now if you lose to them it is more annoying and if you win, well it’s because they suck. But, tonight is about John Tavares making his debut in his hometown, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him put up a goal.
Another new face will make his debut for his new team tonight and that would be the human highlight reel, Erik Karlsson. Karlsson was traded to the San Jose Sharks on September 13th and will have the opportunity to get a taste of the California three-way-rivalry off the bat as he plays against the Ducks tonight and then the LA Kings on Friday. Karlsson solidified that the Sharks now have the best defensive corps in the NHL, yes even better than Nashville’s slew of talent. He will play alongside Marc-Edouard Vlasic on the top defensive pair and will play with Brent Burns on the powerplay. Talk about lethal, Karlsson with his silky smooth stick handling and passing mixed with Burns’ cannon shot they could put up record breaking numbers on the powerplay this year. If you’re a Sharks fan, how can you not be ecstatic about having the best defenseman in the league playing with another top five defenseman? You literally can’t not be stoked. The dorsal fins are circling the surface of the water in the NHL and they are hungry to take a bite out of the Cup.
Some other news across the NHL…
Jack Eichel was named the captain of the Buffalo Sabres this morning at practice and if you haven’t seen the video of him finding out you should, it’s pretty cool. Buffalo didn’t have a captain last season but rather three alternate captains. Eichel will become the first Sabres captain since Brian Gionta who wore the ‘C’ from 2014-2017. Gionta also announced his retirement from the NHL recently, so congratulations to him on a great career.
The NHL had some teams play preseason games across the globe in China and will have teams play a regular season game in Germany and Finland as well this all being a part of the NHL’s Global Series. I like this idea because it spreads more awareness on the sport, expands its fans, and allows players that from Europe to play home or close to home in front of friends and family. Plus, it’s the best players in the world playing the toughest sport, how can you not love that?
Seattle could be the next city to receive an expansion team by 2020. Talks have been in the works for a little while and the owners of the arena, KeyArena, have agreed with the city of Seattle to expand the arena to allow it to hold hockey games. I like this idea because it is yet another American based team and it will even the amount of teams in the league. The more opportunities for players to play the better.
Aaaaaaaand if you haven’t heard of the Philadelphia Flyers new mascot, Gritty, give him a google search. What an ugly looking mascot but what a beauty he is at the same time. From the googley eyes to the fact he looks like Jakub Voracek and even better, he wiped out on the ice during a preseason game trying to shoot t-shirts into the stands. Give Gritty a follow, he’s the new hot commodity in Philly.
Enjoy the games tonight fans, and get ready for another great hockey season.