Mon May 31 09:58am EDT
Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend's events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Ryan Lambert will return next week; guest-authoring WWL in the meantime will be noted poet and father-of-one Greg Wyshynski.
Like the indelible Deadspin headline after his disappearing act and subsequent defeat last year with the Detroit Red Wings: "Don't Ask Marian Hossa For Stock Market Advice." Or the three different entries in Urban Dictionary that include being "Hossa'd" ("Being led on to believe a girl/boy is interested in dating you, but in fact they just don't want to hurt your feelings and say no") and "Hossa Fail" ("THIS IS THE ONLY ACT IN ALL OF PROFESSIONAL SPORTS THAT IS MORE THAN AN EPIC FAIL").
He's a jinx. He's a hex. His decision-making makes Lindsay Lohan look like Warren Buffett.
Well, at least until this postseason.
There's a Marian Hossa sympathy movement afoot in the media, one that may trickle down to the fans. Will you consider Hossa hoisting the Cup, should the Chicago Blackhawks win three more games, as the feel-good moment of the playoffs?
(Coming Up: Outdoor game news for Calgary, Washington; CM Punk talks Duncan Keith(notes); Taylor Hall vs. Tyler Seguin for Bruins; Lidstrom decision soon; video of a Montreal Canadiens religious service; Sakic turns suit; Sidney Crosby(notes) hits endorsement jackpot; Wisniewski wants No. 2 money; getting the Habs Jordan Staal(notes); and the sad ballad of Ryan Parent(notes).)
The Washington Post has a feature story on Hossa that heaps praise on his two-assist Game 1 effort for the Blackhawks and serves as a template for compassionate coverage. No mention of spurning the Pittsburgh Penguins in favor of the team that defeated them in the Cup finals; instead, the 2008 offseason was when Hossa "spurned the security of a lucrative seven-year contract offer from Edmonton" to sign with the Red Wings.
Before, you know, finding a modicum of security the following summer with the Blackhawks, to the tune of 12 years.
There's a gap between the fans and media on this one, in the sense that the former group has found happiness in ridiculing Hossa and the latter finds him to be an almost tragic figure.
The reporters' motivation is two-fold. First, anyone that's had to watch Hossa answer the gajillionth question about his postseason failures can understandably feel some sympathy for the guy. I remember waiting in the Red Wings locker room last finals for Hossa to come out for postgame questions at The Igloo. Twenty minutes became forty minutes; the entire room was emptied other than about a half-dozen reporters (some foreign) and a curtained-off doorway. Finally, Hossa appeared, answering every question asked.
Second is the fact that Hossa's never been criticized or bashed by his teammates. He's a genuinely well-liked player wherever he plays, which makes slamming him as a greedy mercenary difficult.
Here's the thing about Hossa: If he wasn't such a gentleman about the whole thing, if he wasn't so darn polite when asked every single day for the past month why he's not scoring, this story might have been much bigger. But the reason it's been able to percolate somewhat quietly behind all the Hawks' feel-good stories is not because the team is winning, but because Hossa is such a well-liked player in the dressing room.
There's no telling where Hossa's finals stats are headed: He had 7 points for the Penguins and then 3 points in last year's disappearing act for the Red Wings. Game 1 was a solid start, and the Blackhawks will need him if the Jonathan Toews(notes) line is held in check.
If Hossa has a strong, MVP-quality championship round, there are going to be fans and media lauding him for "stepping up" or "earning" his Cup. But there are also going to be fans that won't be able to look past his contract, his decisions and his past playoff struggles.
And then there will be bloggers who dabble in hockey comedy that will be sad to see the reliable "Hossa jinx" comedy bit come to an end.
If only there were another jinxed player to ridicule for his championship round failures. What was that, reader Igor T.?
As everyone is talking about Marian Hossa curse, on how he's trying again to win the Cup with three different teams... but you shouldn't forget Kimmo Timonen(notes). He has never won any major hockey competition after being four times in the biggest hockey finals you can get:
1999 and 2001 IIHF World Championships Finals - LOSER
2004 World Cup - LOSER
2006 Olympic Games (Torino) Final - LOSER
2010 NHL Finals - MAY LOSE AGAIN
So, as you can see these are the biggest hockey finals you get in your life and Timonen has never won any of them. After losing the Stanley Cup Finals, he will join the club in which there are now only two players and they all come from Finland (Jarkko Ruutu(notes), Toni Lydman(notes)). These players have lost all major hockey finals.
The Timonen Hex?
What We Learned
Anaheim Ducks: The Ducks intend to qualify defenseman James Wisniewski(notes) to retain negotiating rights with the restricted free agent. Wiz is reportedly seeking to be paid like a No. 2 defenseman. And Ducks general manager Bob Murray would give him the money he's looking for ... if only his darn hand would stop shaking from the intense laughter at the notion of James Wisniewski getting No. 2 defenseman money.
Atlanta Thrashers: Stephen Rollins, the obscure Hollywood producer who divulged an interest in buying the Thrash last week, is part of "a multi-city financial entity with members in Los Angeles, Atlanta, New York and London that was put together to purchase a majority interest in an NHL team," according to the AJC. This is to say he's friends with much richer, less-interested-in-hockey people than he. But he's also Facebook friends with Anne Hathaway, and we'd be fine with her sitting on the Board of Governors. Or really anywhere.
Boston Bruins: GM Peter Chiarelli said he's "spoken casually" with Edmonton GM Steve Tambellini about a trade for the No. 1 overall pick, but sounds resigned to the fact that the Bruins will likely take either Taylor Hall (at right) or Tyler Seguin depending on whom the Oilers don't pick. We believe Sean Avery(notes) had a term for such a scenario...
Buffalo Sabres: Scott Cullen of TSN believes that the Sabres should target Lightning fan favorite Zenon Konopka(notes) as a free agent for a fourth-line center/enforcer player. Warning: He's thought about going over the Falls before.
Calgary Flames: There are a few problems with this Examiner story about the Flames and Habs playing at McMahon Stadium next season. Like the headline that claims Montreal is "hosting" the Flames. And like the part that says the Penguins and Capitals will play at "Commonwealth Stadium on January 1, 2011 in the Heritage Classic."
Carolina Hurricanes: It would be "surprising" if Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos Jr. was unable to find a local investor or investors to help shoulder the financial load for the franchise. Two words: Ric Flair. The man takes a limo to Burger King; he's gotta have the scratch.
Chicago Blackhawks: Speaking of wrestling, CM Punk of WWE is impressed with the amount of teeth Duncan Keith lost in the conference finals, but is no doubt disappointed he didn't schedule an appointment with renowned dentist Dr. Issac Yankem.
Detroit Red Wings: Pierre LeBrun reported on HNIC that Nicklas Lidstrom(notes) should inform the Red Wings of his intentions to play or retire within the next week. Also decided within the next week: If glasses of champagne or pain-numbing whisky shots will be handed out inside the Detroit front office.
Florida Panthers: Even if the Panthers find a taker for Tomas Vokoun's(notes) elephantine salary, top goalie prospect Jacob Markstrom won't be rushed to the NHL, as Dale Tallon relates his path to the pros to that of Chicago goalie Antti Niemi's.
"Ultimately, if you look at some of the critical numbers, they're a better team. We got exposed. You can break it down a lot of different ways, but that 5-on-5 number says a lot, when you've got that big of a gap. We still have to shore that up, and continue to be hard to play against and keep that defense up. We've got to raise that up from 18th. That's not good enough if we're going to be contenders."
Minnesota Wild: Matt Cullen(notes) of the Senators is going to be a coveted UFA this summer, and Michael Russo thinks he'd be a good fit for Minny.
Montreal Canadiens: We had previously shown photos from this Montreal Canadiens "prayer service" outside Bell Centre, but none of them captured the weirdness like this video does. Or the Briere-sized Flyers coffin, for that matter.
Nashville Predators: With Roman Josi signed, the Preds continue to have an incredible array of young defensemen to reinforce the impressive defensemen already in Nashville. Which would be really exciting news were it not for the fact that this team could use a scorer or 10 up front.
But you think Dollar Bill Wirtz was bad? I'm a New York Islanders fan, one of maybe 17 left on the planet. My team was once sold for $80 million to a guy who DIDN'T HAVE ANY MONEY. He went to jail for it. JAIL. Our owner went to JAIL. My team has missed the playoffs 11 of 14 years. My team has traded every good player it's had over the past decade and a half for a bucket of pucks, all in the name of cheapskatery. Roberto Luongo(notes). Todd Bertuzzi(notes). Zdeno Chara(notes). Zigmund Palffy. The list goes on and on. Trust me when I say the name "Mike Milbury" is more of a dirty word to me than "Bill Wirtz" is to you.
New York Rangers: Some predictions and plans for the Blueshirts in 2010-11, including a plea for Marty Biron to be the team's backup goalie.
Ottawa Senators: A full review of Bryan Murray's tenure as general manager. How can you not love analysis like this on the Alexander Nikulin(notes) for Drew Fata(notes) trade: "I have no idea who any of these people are and I don't give a [expletive]. Neither of them did anything in the NHL and most likely won't."
Phoenix Coyotes: Gary Bettman comes clean about the Canadian owner seeking to relocate the Coyotes from Glendale. No, not that first one; this is a new one that won't try to steal it through the courts.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Sidney Crosby is on the verge of signing the richest endorsement deal in NHL history, which means lots more energy drink for your feet.
San Jose Sharks: Your Bleacher Report article of the week is "Jarome Iginla to the San Jose Sharks? Why It Makes Sense For Both Sides."
"I know fans get frustrated because they want more," Davidson said. "But it comes down to the reality of waiting for our players to mature. You can't speed up that evolution. We are what we are. And we're going to continue with this plan. And if that takes a little more time, we're going to stay with it and hope that our good young players become very good young players and then great players. We have no choice. It's just the way it is."
Tampa Bay Lightning: Damian Cristodero thinks Kevin Dineen might be the frontrunner for the coaching vacancy.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Down Goes Brown presents a new feature that recreates what would have been written for various events in Leafs' history. First up: a "live blog" of the Leafs/Kings Game 6 from 1993. "Turns out the referee tonight is Kerry Fraser, by the way. Just making a note of it for the sake of completeness, I'm sure it won't end up being important."
Washington Capitals: The Capitals plan to wear throwback jerseys for the Winter Classic against the Penguins, meaning that all those dummies that currently own "Ovechkin" on a Mike Gartner-era sweater may have avoided a Jersey Foul.
Play of the Weekend
Tomas Koepcky with the game-winning goal for the Hawks on a great delayed shot. Or, as the NHL put it, when he "lit the eleventh lamp."
Gold Star Award
Chicago Blackhawks fans, for creating an awesome atmosphere for Game 1 (despite the disjointed nature of the game) and for that 35 share in the local ratings that helped the NHL and NBC to a huge night. Kudos to the Blackhawks fans and to their tens of thousands of new friends that suddenly discovered the sport in the last month.
Minus of the Weekend
Ryan Parent dropped his stick and helped give up a goal in the 6-5 Game 1 loss. That one shift, for 41 seconds, would be his only one of the game, and now there's speculation that he won't play the rest of the series or again as a Flyer. Ouch.
Perfect HFBoards trade proposal of the week
"Habs Nation Unite" believes Montreal has what it takes to add Jordan Staal to the roster from, ahem, "Pitsburg."
Lets be honest. AK could wing Malkin very nicely and Max could fill what ever void they have in the top 9. Lappy could fight with Talbot for the 3rd line for a healthy but productive rivalry.
Habs would get the centerman they despretly need with the size and skill that Staal has. Staal is not going to be able to stand being the shadow on the 3rd line forever, he needs to leave and become as dominant as his older brother Eric (hopefully) and at the same time Pens need to realize that wingers are important also.
Oh, OK then.
What We Learned is typically authored by Ryan Lambert of The Two-Line Pass, who will return in next week.