Ramblings: Updates on Dumba, McAvoy, Hamilton, and Toews; the Seattle Kraken; Theodore; playoff viewership – July 24

Michael Clifford

2020-07-24

The big news on Thursday was the announcement of the Seattle franchise's new name and logo. There had been hope they'd be released earlier, but, you know, *gestures broadly*.

Anyway, that announcement came and the team has settled on the Seattle Kraken. It was a name that got a lot of traction on social media, and honestly, it's really cool. I also dig the logos and colour palette:

 

 

 

The whole rollout was pretty rad. The jerseys look good, the name is pretty cool, and the logos all are slam dunks. They even had a couple cool promo videos. Full marks to the design team.

Now, we wait for the expansion draft. With a stagnant cap, it should make things quite exciting.

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After leaving practice on Wednesday, Dougie Hamilton did not step on the ice Thursday for practice. The season starts in a week, and this team just got back their Norris-calibre blue liner. Let's hope it's nothing too serious, as with Sidney Crosby in Pittsburgh.

In the meantime, Sami Vatanen took over top PP duties.

It doesn't seem as if Jake Bean is going to crack the lineup, at least initially. It's hard to argue, given he has two NHL games under his belt, and they were in November of 2018. Even if he never lines up for one contest, just being around a playoff atmosphere – in the dressing room – is good experience. I'm still holding out hope he'll find his way into a game this summer. Let's just hope it's not at the expense of Hamilton.

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Staying with defencemen, Matt Dumba was not at Minnesota practice on Thursday (or scrimmage, whatever). As with all these injuries, teams are not allowed to disclose the injury, which just leads to rampant speculation on what it could be.

I understand why the NHLPA wouldn't want the names of positive-testing players to be released, but this is also creating headaches through a lack of transparency. Not what is needed at this particular juncture of our history.

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Nikolaj Ehlers was also missing for practice from the Jets. He hasn't been someone that has had stuff crop up in the recent past so something changed in the last 24 hours. If we see any updates, we'll pass it along, but we'll likely get very little clarity.

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Nate MacKinnon was also missing from Colorado practice.

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At the other end of the spectrum, Charlie McAvoy returned to practice for Boston after missing a couple of sessions. That's good news for a Bruins team that continues to be without David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase, and may be for some time yet.

The Bruins have luxury of some time, as with the bye, the games that really matter don't start for three weeks, give or take a few days. But they still have to get into the bubble, and it's not certain Pastrnak and Kase will be there with them at the outset. What a mess.

Just as an FYI: without Pastrnak in the lineup, it was David Krejci who slid to the top PP unit in practice for the Bruins. All the people out there with playoff pools and drafts coming up, this could be a good late-round sleeper.

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Jonathan Toews was back at practice for Chicago not long after being deemed unfit to play. That is pretty important for Chicago, as their chances of beating Edmonton largely hinge on their offence, and Toews is a big part of that.

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This is going to rub some people the wrong way but I frankly don't care. Here we go: let the players do literally whatever they want in terms of celebrating their personality, if only for these playoffs this year. It's a season where people are going to be yelling about asterisks for decades anyway. Let's have a little fun along the way, yeah?

Who cares about dress codes, honestly? There are like seven guys in Barrie who wear bomber jackets every Saturday night who care deeply about seeing players wear suits and that's it. Those seven guys in Barrie don't get to speak for the entirety of hockey fandom.

Celebrations? Well, things are going to be a bit different in the covid era. So let's see some real out-of-the-box thinking. I want Alex Ovechkin pulling a lighter and fireworks out of his pants after ripping a PP goal short-side off the post and starting a one-sided Roman Candle fight. I want to see Tyler Seguin go bar-down and do some rhythmic dancing. I want to see Andrei Vasilevskiy windmill a glove save and then drop-kick the puck in the opposing bench. I want to see McDavid skate through the entire Blackhawks lineup, go five-hole and then perform Elvis Stojko's entire silver medal-winning singles skate from the Lillehammer Olympics in 1994. (It was great.) I want to see players show up to the rink looking like they went to their local tailor and said, "Give me the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." In other words, I want to see some outlandish stuff.

Because here's the thing: NHL is going to be competing with NBA, MLB, WNBA, MLS, NWSL and potentially even NFL and NCAAF for their playoffs. They're going to have to give people who wouldn't normally watch hockey a reason to not watch the St. Louis Cardinals, or the Dallas Mavericks, or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If they don't, doesn't it seem plausible that ratings are even lower than they normally are for NHL playoffs? At least in America.

I very much realize that none of what I asked for a couple paragraphs above will happen. The game of hockey is my favourite sport in the world to play and watch, but the product of the NHL is as boring as anything that exists on our planet. I mean that in all sincerity. The interviews are largely the most uninteresting things in the world, which is why Patrick Roy talking about two Stanley Cup rings 25 years ago is one of the most memorable interviews quotes in NHL history. It also speaks to just how boring the league is outside of the game itself.

Some people will say that's fine, and that's the way they enjoy the NHL. Everyone consumes things differently and they have the right to that opinion. But the league has an opportunity to draw new eyeballs and so far, the best idea floated so far is team track suits, which lies somewhere between Funny If Done Right (think Purple Cobras in the movie Dodgeball) and Incredibly Dumb If Done Wrong (think almost any other context in which matching suits are used for people over the age of 18). Let's have the players show some personality on the ice.

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Something that's crossed my mind during this pause, especially once we got the go-ahead for playoffs to start: this could be a huge breakout performance for Shea Theodore.

Theodore had kind of a slow start to the season with just 12 points in 28 games, but from December 1st onward, he posted 34 points in 43 games, or a 65-point pace. Most of that stretch coincided with a rise in ice time, as he posted 21:31 ATOI through the end of December, but jumped to 23:21 after New Year's. If he can continue to play 23-24 minutes a night, he absolutely has the offensive ability (and supporting cast) to put up something like 20 points in a Cup Final run, including the seeding games.

I truly believe that Theodore is on the cusp of stardom and is already among the most underrated defenceman in the NHL. When I look at the Western Conference, I don't see many juggernauts. I don't see a Boston (if everyone is healthy…) or a Tampa Bay. That Western juggernaut may in fact be the Golden Knights.

This will be a crazy playoffs because of all the circumstances surrounding it. That's what makes it both intriguing to parse and frustrating to project. With that said, it would not shock me in the least if Theodore blows up this postseason. He has the tools and the environment to do it. Now it's up to him.

UPCOMING GAMES

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STARTING GOALIES

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HOT PLAYERS

  Players Team GP G A P
CONNOR MCDAVID EDM 4 5 4 9
SEBASTIAN AHO CAR 5 3 7 10
RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS EDM 4 2 6 8
BO HORVAT VAN 5 6 3 9
QUINN HUGHES VAN 5 1 7 8
PIERRE-LUC DUBOIS CBJ 5 4 4 8
CHRISTOPHER TANEV VAN 4 1 5 6
AUSTON MATTHEWS TOR 4 2 4 6
BROCK NELSON NYI 4 3 3 6
LEON DRAISAITL EDM 4 3 3 6

LINE COMBOS

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