Nation World HQ
January 08 2012 05:41PM
It’s halftime. Most of the National Hockey League’s 30 teams have played 41 of 82 games and for some of the teams, it’s been quite a ride. For a load of others, of course, it’s been a nightmare.
For instance, the Anaheim Ducks were fourth in the West last spring with 99 points. At the midway mark of 2011-12, the Ducks have only 11 wins and 28 points. Last year, the Atlanta Thrashers were in the midst of a downward spiral, set to miss the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season. This year, the Thrashers are now the Winnipeg Jets and after a win in their 41st game of the season on Saturday night, they sit in ninth place in the East, just a point below the post-season line.
This being a website called www.jestnation.ca, we’ll stay close to home, but make no mistake, there have been many interesting stories in the first half of the 2011-12 season: the collapse of the Ducks, the emergence of the great young star Claude Giroux, the firing of six coaches, the great play of so many teenaged stars, the league’s realignment plans and the NHLPA’s rejection of those plans, the incredible mess in Montreal, concussions, Shanahan’s justice and the loss of Sidney Crosby.
Nation World HQ
January 07 2012 08:35PM
For the past week, Winnipeg Jets head coach Claude Noel has lamented his team's inability to defend. He doesn't whine about his team's inability to score. He's come to accept that. So, as most coaches in the NHL demand these days, Noel simply asks his team to stop the opposition from scoring.
Saturday night in Buffalo, the Jets defended beautifully. The defense played one of its finest games of the season as the Jets beat the Sabres 2-1 in overtime.
Fittingly, a defenseman, Johnny Oduya, scored the winning goal at the 57 second mark of overtime as the Jets improved to 20-16-5, won their first game of 2012, snapped a brief two-game losing streak and moved into ninth place in the East, just a point behind eighth-place Pittsburgh.
January 07 2012 10:32AM
Hot on the heels of my 10 Things Jets Gave Us in 2011 article, I am compelled to follow up with 12 wishes for '12 for the Jets, focused mostly on player issues but with a fan and media wish too.
Nation World HQ
January 07 2012 07:23AM
When Donald Fehr took over as the executive director of the National Hockey League Players Association, he offered an olive branch to commissioner Gary Bettman.
In a far-reaching interview in early 2011, Fehr said he wasn't taking over the position to create any problems or have a fight with anyone. He was there to do what's best for his members. Sounded good, but anyone who knew Fehr, knew that he was jerking Bettman's chain.
Friday night, Fehr yanked Bettman's chain again.
January 06 2012 08:11PM
(Updated at 9:01 p.m. CST)
This one is personal. I am in love with the National Hockey League Players Association tonight. Even though I still believe that the NHLPA and the league's owners will eventually agree on realignment for next season, I'm in heaven on this beautiful Friday night.
Now, as I said, this one is personal. Later this month, I will once again head to Tampa and Sunrise to follow the Winnipeg Jets through sunny Florida. My daughter -- suddenly a huge Jets fan again -- lives in Orlando, about 57 minutes down Hwy. 4 from the front door of the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa. When I'm in Florida, I feel at home. I'm in love with the beaches, the restaurants, the smooth jazz, the Orlando Airport, the warm breezes, the ballparks, the three NFL teams, the House of Blues, the occasional hurricane and even ol' Mickey Mouse himself.
I was in heaven this year when the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg, not just because Winnipeg got an NHL team back, but because the league said it would keep the Jets in the Southeast Division for one more season.