[Author's note: Power rankings are usually three things: Bad, wrong, and boring. You typically know just as well as the authors which teams won what games against who and what it all means, so our moving the Red Wings up four spots or whatever really doesn't tell you anything you didn't know. Who's hot, who's not, who cares? For this reason, we're doing a power ranking of things that are usually not teams. You'll see what I mean.]
6. A midseason tournament
Hockey fans are always going to want more hockey and it's pretty easy to agree with them: More hockey is good.
But the problem is that, in many cases, guys are already pushed to the physical limit by the sport as it currently stands. There's a two- or three-week training camp of scrimmages and exhibitions, then an 82-game regular season that's hardly broken up by a brief All-Star break, then a postseason that can run as many as 28 more games if your team is truly unfortunate. That doesn't include seasons in which the Olympics are played, either. Nor does it include the World Cup of Hockey that might make a comeback in the next few years.
And that's not enough for people. So with the NBA now looking at shutting down the league for a few weeks to run its own in-season tournament, some are calling for the NHL to do the same. It's a good idea in theory. Everyone gets more rest if it's single-elimination (except the hundred-plus players who would play deep into the tournament), the league generates more money, the salary cap goes up so players get paid more, fans get more hockey. Win-win-win situation.
Except that the problem here is that toward the end of the season, everyone starts complaining about how there's too much hockey. Every year, you hear many people complain, “Do we really want them awarding the Stanley Cup in late June?”
Well, I mean, I don't mind but if you get a mid-season tournament, you probably guarantee that much, if not pushing it back to July.
And can you imagine the crying that comes when a Phil Kessel-type player gets injured playing the Panthers in the first round of this essentially meaningless tournament? Can you imagine how much we have to hear about “fatigue” if a team misses the playoffs by a single point while also going to the semifinals of this thing?
A midseason tournament is a terrible idea. Just awful. And I say this as someone who, in theory at least, basically wants to watch hockey 365 days a year. It's like that thing in sitcoms where a kid gets caught smoking and his dad makes him smoke a whole pack. At some point, it's just too much.
5. A Ryan Johansen holdout?
The long and protracted saga of Ryan Johansen failing to sign with the Blue Jackets this summer stretches on even longer. While the two sides finally agreed that a two-year bridge deal would be a fine and dandy compromise, it seems that the actual compensation for two years remains a problem. A big, big problem.
How big? Try, “roughly $3 million apart per season.” Per season!
To say that's a huge gap is dramatically understating things. For example, a guy I think most people would agree is a properly-valued player at $3 million per season is Michael Grabner, who's a pretty good player but not, like, great or anything. Meanwhile, a properly-valued $6 million player is Joe Pavelski, who's a clear difference-maker but by no means elite.
I'm just speculating as to the numbers Columbus might try to advance versus Johansen's camp, but that sounds about right for what both sides would want. And because it's a two-year bridge deal, I'm pretty inclined to think the number will end up being closer to $3 million than $6 million, simply because that's the way the league works.
Let's put it this way: If P.K. Subban, who's one of the best defensemen in the sport, took a little less than $3 million two seasons ago, Johansen really doesn't have a leg to stand on as far as Columbus should be concerned. It's difficult to be convinced, in fact, that a kid whose shooting came in at 13.9 percent last year, and whose possession numbers were by no means otherworldly, is going to be able to put up 30-plus goals like clockwork just because he's barely 22.
Johansen is obviously going to be a star in this league, and it's hard to begrudge him even a brief training camp “holdout” (for lack of a better term; it isn't really a holdout because he's not under contract). But the thing is, we all know how this is going to end.
4. Not facing reality
What year do you think this quote about the ability of the Coyotes to quote-unquote make it work in the desert is from: “I'm not sure it will matter if I say it, but we're committed to this market for the long run and we keep proving it.”
That quote was, of course, from this year, with George Gosbee once again reaffirming the group's commitment to keeping the team in Glendale and definitely 100 percent not having any interest whatsoever in exercising the team's out clause after five seasons of losing a certain amount of money. Now Gosbee says the team could even be profitable sooner than expected because of all the money coming in from the league's various TV deals (not to mention revenue sharing from successful clubs).
Stop me if you've heard all this before.
Here's another “this could have been anytime from 1996 to present” quote from Gosbee: “If [profitability] happens faster than we thought it would, great, but if it doesn't that doesn't concern us.”
Well sure. It doesn't concern you now. But when you're six years into this deal and the team still isn't making money without completely gutting the roster all the way to the cap floor, with a constant “youth movement” in mind, maybe that concern starts ticking up just a little bit, no?
3. The Ice Bucket Challenge
At this point, is there anyone in hockey who hasn't done it yet? When cartoonish billionaire Jeremy Jacobs, no-fun-nik Brian Burke, and takes-himself-too-seriously Gary Bettman are getting in on the action, then this is when Alexander must weep. There are no more worlds for this movement to conquer.
2. Josh Ho-Sang
As ever, this sport is constantly being dragged through the sewer by guys who think they are good at it.
P.K. Subban has brought hockey low in the past few years, as has Evander Kane. And now it seems as if Islanders first-round pick Josh Ho-Sang is doing the same thing.
Ho-Sang kicked off this latest controversy (because he's so controversial, you see!) when he was not selected to attend Hockey Canada's World Junior evaluation camp. He feels that, as a first-round pick, he should probably have at least gotten a look, and he's probably right.
It's this quote that did him in: “The fact that I haven't been invited to a camp, it's insulting.”
You'd think a first-round pick of any stripe would pretty much automatically get such an invite, but that wasn't the case. Ho-Sang hasn't “paid his dues” or whatever and therefore he should not publicly express his disappointed incredulity that he was not invited despite being a star in the OHL last season.
And really, it's a trend he's been dealing with for a while. He wasn't invited to the U18 teams in the spring or summer of 2013 despite the fact that he did very, very well in the OHL, or U17 before that. Ho-Sang simply doesn't know why Hockey Canada wouldn't want him, and he wants answers.
Unfortunately, “Hockey Canada declined to comment on this story.”
Ho-Sang is also rocking the boat because he says he wants to be “better than John Tavares.” Which is somehow now a borderline criminal action. Instead of, y'know, being something admirable. This No. 28 overall pick who says he wants to be better than one of the best players alive, who's going to be his teammate in a year or two, that's normally a sign that a kid's motivated to succeed.
Shouldn't he want to be better than Tavares, or Ovechkin, or Crosby? Shouldn't he push himself toward that goal?
Well, only 22 paragraphs into this 23-paragraph story are we instructed that we should not “mistake it as cockiness or arrogance.” Which is all anyone is doing. Because Josh Ho-Sang doesn't fit anyone in the establishment's ideal mold of a hockey player.
1. Facing reality
While the Arizona Coyotes are steadfastly refusing to accept that maybe the greater Phoenix area might actually not be a great hockey market, it seems that the new ownership in Florida is under no such illusions about Miami.
“[T]he arena and the team have lost a significant amount of money year over year for the last 10-plus years and the current business model is not sustainable,” said co-owner Doug Cifu.
He further noted that the Panthers are now spending more on player salaries than at any point in team history, and gave out more than $60 million worth of commitments this summer alone. With that having been said, Cifu must know that the only thing that sells tickets is winning, and the team is still a long way from doing that. Spending money on bad players doesn't help.
What a fun franchise, though. Have fun in Quebec!
(Not ranked this week: Bold stances.
Jeremy Roenick thinks Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane will not be bad under their new contracts. Instead he thinks they will be good. It takes a lot of guts to put it all out there like that, but then again JR has never been shy about controversy!)
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- Ryan Johansen