August 29 2012 07:47AM
Can the Canucks go back-to-back-to-back? (And then get eliminated in the first round again?)
Partly because they play in such a thoroughly woeful division, the Canucks managed to repeat as President's Trophy winners last season. But their first round playoff exit, in five games at the hands of the eventual Stanley Cup Champions, marred the 2011-12 campaign as a "failure."
Being at the absolute top of the table is a testament to the quality and consistency of the roster, but regular season dominance simply isn't the goal for this club, or their management team.
August 28 2012 01:18PM
While NHL fans do a slow burn and the league's player prepare for a season that may never come, the owners and Bettman appear to be enjoying another season of good times on Boardwalk, Park Place and Pennsylvania avenues. Allan Mitchell tackles the issues with some heavy hitters.
This is Nation Radio.
August 28 2012 10:09AM
Despite missing the playoffs in each of the prior two seasons, last year began with a glimmer of hope for Flames fans - the club went on to be one of the hottest teams in the league in the wake of Darryl Sutter's ouster in 2011-12. So although new GM Jay Feaster only made a few nominal changes to the line-up in the summer of 2012, the feeling was the organization would bloom now that it wasn't operating under the dour cloud of Sutter's baleful glare.
Unfortunately, the second half run in 2012 was mostly a mirage. The Flames were (and remain) a fundamentally flawed club who are good enough to compete for a playoff spot, but several steps behind the true contenders in the league. The current construction of the team also makes a real step forward in the near future unlikely; in fact, with an aging core and lackluster collection of players in or near their prime, the Flames will probably continue to trend downwards.
August 27 2012 11:08AM
Oilers select first overall at the 2011 Draft (Bri Weldon/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0)
The model was clear enough when the Oilers first decided they were going to make the best of a bad situation midway through 2009-10: having found themselves rather good at losing, the team would keep right on doing it, earning a bunch of top draft picks. With that nucleus of young talent, some patience, and some shrewd rebuilding, the Oilers core would be good enough when the team finally rebounded that they could contend for years.
2011-12 – judging by the statements of Oilers executives, the shift in tactics by (and end of season departure of) head coach Tom Renney – was supposed to be the start of the return to respectability. Instead, the Oilers picked first overall again. Is 2012-13 the year the team starts putting some distance between themselves and the NHL basement?
August 25 2012 10:14AM
On July 1, 2012, the Minnesota Wild were perhaps the NHL’s most anonymous club. Having played their most recent playoff game in 2008 and lacking either the ineptitude that draws jeers from the NHL community (like the Maple Leafs and Islanders), while also not having the financial issues of the Thrashers or Panthers, the Wild were content to bob along, alone and unrecognized in the NHL pond.
They were bad, but bad in an interesting way.
They had missed the playoffs the last four years, but the highest they picked in the draft is 7th. Sure, they’d make an incompetent move once in a while, either an ill-advised trade or unneeded free-agent splash, but the NHL community at large just forgot about Minnesota, all tucked away down there.