Hello to all. Hope most of you had as an entertaining summer much as the NHL did. I don't know where to begin.
Once the NHL season comes to an end, I try and get through the NHL entry draft and UFA day (July 1) then turn hockey off for a bit. You know, enjoy the family, watch some movies, work on my farmer's tan and hit the gym to work off all the hotel meals from the two-month playoff run.
But, I never had that chance this year.
Everywhere I went, friends or family or just regular ol' folk wanted to talk hockey. In Montreal, hockey is the topic in October, January, August, September, February - you get the picture? - and this year even June. No, it wasn't because they were playing for the Stanley Cup, it was because they went totally against their fan base and traded their 2009 MVP Jaroslav Halak.
Don't get me started on this. The Habs brass decided to trade Halak a few days before the draft without informing all the teams that he was available. It made no sense. You didn't have to trade him and you didn't have to trade him at that time. Why not dangle him at draft day when all 30 GMs are in the building. Maybe you'll get a better deal than two unproven NHLers. Time will tell. I hope for Carey Price's sake the deal works out.
Anyways, back to the summer.
The Ilya Kovalchuk situation. The NHL doesn't allow his 17-year $102 million US deal with New Jersey to go through, only to allow their second attempt of a 15-year, $100 million slide, only to come back on the Devils and fine them $3 million and two draft pick for ... ahem ... "circumventing" the CBA. Phew! I'm a tad confused. OK, you can do it ... uh ... no, you can't ... uh ... yes, you can ... but we are going to fine you for being sneaky.
To boot, the NHL realized after the fact that maybe some other teams had been sneaky with them too and decided to go back against the grain and look at contracts that had been signed years ago (i.e. Luongo, Hossa).
Then the Sheldon Souray drama in Edmonton, Bryzgalov in Phoenix, the Blackhawks winning the Cup only to be forced to dismantle their championship winning team, draft day anticipation (Hall - Seguin, Seguin - Hall, etc.) and of course the sad news of the passing of one of my favorites - Bob Probert.
All this brings us to training camps and pre-season games, which of course leads to people in the sport business having their bosses ask them to write a blog on predicting the 2010-2011 season!
Voila. I mean, it's been two weeks of training camp, and my prognosticating skills are at their max so let's let 'er rip. I mean what's the worse that can happen? This is such a lose-lose situation for me. I'm not going to pick your team. You're sitting in your mom's basement playing Dungeons & Dragons when you get the pop-up on the side of your computer screen (because you're tech-savvy) ... "Habs to finish 9th."
Lil' Kevin then snaps and throws the cheese doodles that were in the bowl on his lap onto the ground. He licks his first three fingers on both hands and grabs his keyboard. His fingers go to work.
He finds out I wrote it because, of course, he has (like you all should have) CBCSport.ca bookmarked. He goes to my article and decides he's going to give me a piece of his mind. "PJ, you know nothing. You were a fourth-liner at best. You don't know how good the red, white and blue are going to be. You don't understand that they are the best team in the history of teams and that Carey Price is a God. I hate you and your really good sense of style. Habs to finish third. Go Habs Go!"
I know what my bosses have got me into so let's start off this little number by saying hugs and kisses to all Leaf and Habs' fans because I don't think your teams will be in the playoffs.
"Leafs Nation": you are heading in the right direction, but still not enough offence up front and too many errors on the back end for me to put you guys in the Top 8.
Habbies, as of today, I don't think you have the gusto to get there either. On the cusp, but the absence of Markov for a bit and the question mark that is your goaltending and the lack of physical presence on your top lines have you out of the running as well. Sorry ... start bashing away!
No one can really predict how everything is going to end up with so many unforeseeable events such as injuries, trades, chemistry with new teammates, how a team reacts to losing old teammates, how rookies will play (especially those from a collegial past that normally only play 40 games a year), the gout, hangovers, bad luck, etc.
I'm sure you get the gist of me making up my excuses. Anyhoo, I'm willing to give it the ol' college try. BTW - I didn't finish college so if this doesn't come out the way I was hoping, you can email me and complain to Elliotte Friedman.
Without any further ado, my predictions:
1 - WASH
2 - JERSEY
3 - BOSTON
4 - PHILLY
5 - BUFF
6 - PITT
7 - TAMPA
8 - OTTAWA
9 - MTL
10 - RANGERS
11 - TORONTO
12 - ATLANTA
13 - CAROLINA
14 - FLORIDA
15 - ISLES
1 - VAN
2 - CHI
3 - LA
4 - DETROIT
5 - SHARKS
6 - PHOENIX
7 - ANAHEIM
8 - NASHVILLE
9 - ST. LOUIS
10 - AVS
11 - FLAMES
12 - MINNY
13 - DALLAS
14 - BLUE JACKETS
15 - EDMONTON
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