Declaring War with Canada
After watching a Mid-Winter Classic in Texas on New Years Day, I decided it's time to rustle some spurs. I was thinking about the NHL over the last decade and how the new power teams dethroned the teams from 2000-2009 and how new risers are already dethroning the 2010-2019 champions. With teams like the Carolina Hurricanes, Toronto Maples Leafs, and Winnipeg Jets all making pushes for the ultimate trophy as they mature as teams. Tampa Bay Lightning are a fence rider here as they’ve had success half way through last decade with a very young team, to becoming a mature powerhouse plowing its way into this decade, and the mighty Capitals still winning as well.
One thing that really rubbed me the wrong way was the All-Century Team and how the NHL cannot wait to anoint the next Canadian superstar, prematurely again. Back in the 90’s ESPN and Barry Melrose couldn’t hold their loads with their making of Eric Lindros as the next Gretzky, but with muscle. How’d that work out? Sure Big E is in the Hall of Fame and was a very productive player when healthy. I still have the VHS tape of the 1997 Red Wings Cup games versus Lindros’s Philadelphia Flyers, and Melrose going absolutely ballistic in between periods with his hate of Russian players when Vlad Konstantinov absolutely destroyed Joel Otto coming across the middle with his head down. Also Barry’s broadcast rant that would have had Vlad in prison had these games been played in Canada, a later subject I’ll cover here, Canada’s lack of Cups the last quarter century.
Anyway I digress, the NHL and their self-anointed Canadian superstars is where I was, so at the height of the Chicago Blackhawks three Cups and the NHL named Jonathan Toews to the All-Century Team while excluding Evgeni Malkin. Who, in my humble opinion, is a way better overall player at the time, and Scotty Bowman had Pierre Pilote in his top 100, and this is all subject to debate amongst sports junkies. Listed below, from my second favorite website hockeyreference.com is a comparison of Malkin and Toews statistics thus far regular season and playoff wise. Jonathon Toews is a very good player, and I love his work ethic and style of play, I just felt at the time the NHL was looking to anoint another Canadian superstar as one of the greatest ever, when he was only halfway through his career. Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith were also named to the team along with Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin whose personal accolades were all better than Toews, and all are multiple Stanley Cup Champions.
Not too shabby for Toews, like I said, he is a great player and excellent leader who leads by example and let’s his play do the talking. Captain Serious is also a moniker I hated for him, just because he doesn’t smile that much and takes his job seriously doesn’t mean we give him a horrid nickname. With plenty of miles on these skates and most likely plenty more JT will most likely hit the 500 goal club, as he and Kane are still piling up the points, even with the Hawks struggling. Now let’s take a look at Malkin’s numbers:
Geno’s numbers and trophy collection are both larger then Toews, and Malkin took it all in stride when asked about it, as he was quoted as saying “I guess I’ll be player 101 until another 100 years passes.” Malkin has missed significant time also due to injuries, but when he is 100%, there wasn’t a better player on the ice, which won me plenty of Fantasy League Trophies.
I’ve been sitting on this for a while and finally put pen to paper to vent on the NHL and the premature anointment of players as the next Canadian Superhero, stop and let these kids play and have fun without all the burden of being the next Gretzky. There will NEVER be another Wayne, he was the best player at the perfect time in the league where offense was way more important than defense. Look at the top 25 scorers in NHL history and ¾ of them are from that era, as shown below:
This is the benefit of playing in that wide open style of play in the late 70’s through early 90’s before the New Jersey Devils and Detroit Red Wings applied the Left-Wing Lock as freely as the greatest champion ever Ric Flair applied the figure-four leg lock.
The points and goals all-time lists are below, with a few active players on the board in Joe Thornton in Points and Alexander Ovechkin on the Goals list. Who is currently only 212 goals behind the Great One, can Ovi bypass Gretz? Very possible at the clip Alex is scoring at and his age, he will certainly push for it. Ovechkin is 34 years old and will push for the 50 goal plateau again this season and eclipse the 700 goal marker, putting him in a very elite club, and not the cheesy religious show, The 700 Club. If I was a betting man, well I am a betting man, and I’m very positive Ovi will pass Gordie Howe, in possibly two more full seasons.
Well I hope I didn’t alienate our Canadian viewers but calling Jonathan Toews a not 100 Greatest Players, he isn’t, and he isn’t more worthy than Malkin. That doesn’t mean that he isn’t a great player, he is, and there are 29 other NHL clubs that would have given almost anything to add him to their teams. Toews is the kind of layer the Maple Leafs need to add toot-sweet to show those young bucks what it takes to win a Cup, and why not Tampa Bay also. The Lightning have been a constant pick-tease the last five season, get your crap together Tampa and play up to your talent level. Canadian teams, attention, you can win a Cup anytime now! Toronto, Winnipeg, and Calgary are all very close with Edmonton not that far behind along with the younger and upcoming Vancouver Canucks. Montreal and Ottawa have some work to do though, but the talent is there, and as we’ve all seen last season, the playoffs are wide open and ripe for the picking, and one more thing, keep the Mid-Winter Classic where it's actually winter!
And just for my favorite coach ever, Scotty Bowman, here is his left off The All-Century Team great player:
If you ever want to talk pucks or any other fantasy sports drop me a line @PolkaPat and I’ll talk your ear off about not only hockey, but baseball and football fantasy wise. As I placed highest for our website in the Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational created by our friend and great fantasy junkie Mr. Justin Mason, The Busiest Man in Fantasy.