Happy Fantasy Prospects Report Day! Now released – go go go!
I meant to post this yesterday. EA Sports NHL 11 simulated the Final and after Vancouver wins the first two (one in OT), Boston wins the next two. They then take turns until the Canucks win Game 7 for the Cup! For the full simulation details, view the blog here. You can get screen shots here.
Colin Campbell’s reign of terror is over. Brendan Shanahan’s reign of terror begins. It’s a no-win kind of job. And former players should not be placed in charge of discipling current ones. Nothing against Shanny, who is one of the most stand-up guys out there. It’s just not the way to go about this.
Somebody posted a thread regarding reviving the old Small World site/idea and it may have been accidentally removed. Can that person please contact me at dobber at dobberhockey .com ?
Wow – there’s some perspective for ya. Via Corey in the comments. I’m so immersed in polishing off and releasing the FPR…and then the Winnipeg news… that, oh yeah the Stanley Cup Final begins tonight!
The big news, of course, is Winnipeg. I've delayed commenting on this in-depth because the process I knew would drag out and I didn't want to give my thoughts on it repeatedly over the course of who knows how many months. Winnipeg always had a decent to below-average team. They rarely got out of the first round. It's tough when most big-name free agents won't sign there. They have to rely on drafting and development. This gave them the likes of Teemu Selanne, Shane Doan, Teppo Numminen, etc. Currently, the Thrashers have zip for prospects with fantasy value, but they have a good young team. No superstar nucleus though. So what happens if they don't get to the second round of the playoffs by 2026?
I've already heard grumbles about ticket prices. I'm told $7000+ for two season tickets in the 200 level. And the commitment needed is three to five years. In a city of 740,000 give or take, can those conditions be sustained? What about if the team goes 15 years of either no playoffs, or first round and out? Let's just say I'm concerned. I don't question Winnipeg's love of hockey – it's a Top 10 hockey city worldwide. But with a strong Canadian dollar today, things look pretty rosy. But I'm not a believer in second chances when it comes to sports teams returning to a city. Atlanta blew theirs. Colorado was doing great with theirs…when they were winning. Anyway, my two cents. You can throw it in my face in 2026 when I'm wrong. But if Winnipeg wins a Cup or builds a strong, competitive team – then they will do great. But then again, so would Atlanta.
In summary – Winnipeg is a passionate hockey city capable of selling out games for the next 10 years even if they suck. Can they go 15 years if they still suck? That's where my questions arise. The Canadian dollar is strong right now and Atlanta's pipeline is weak. If this team can't become a winner and the dollar sinks by 2026 – that's my concern.
What would work is a second Toronto team, win or lose. Anyhoo…
Congrats to Don Waddell for running his team right out of the market. And yes, I blame him. I think he was doing a great job for a while there, but then the train came off the tracks. At one time, he had Kovalchuk, Heatley and two young promising players in other positions – Coburn for the blue line and Lehtonen for the net. I thought the pieces were in place. They had Marc Savard up the middle and an up-and-comer in Patrik Stefan on the way. Then, after the lockout, it seemed like he couldn't adapt. He couldn't adapt to the salary cap/floor, he couldn't put a team together that could play in the "new" NHL. Stefan turned out to be horrible, Heatley was traded, Lehtonen was a Band-Aid Boy and Coburn was over-rated. And Waddell floundered instead of fixing it. Atlanta fans were patient, but patience only goes so far.
Hilarious – Puck Daddy calls the Atlanta Thrashers' season ticket office one hour before the Winnipeg press conference – and they still are open to sell season tickets. Full conversation here.