The Hockey Machine Keeps Skating

I like to pretend that for the most part, humans are adaptable life forms. There’s always going to be hardships, strain, disappointments, and probably an additional synonym or two. Don’t get me wrong, as far as I’m concerned, we the people are incessant whiners, complainers, vinegar-pissers, and tantrum throwers. Sometimes it seems most especially true in the city of Chicago and the surrounding suburban landscape.

This won’t be a literary inspection into the human condition and our unwavering inability to “just deal with it”. But, I did feel it was necessary as a preface. For all intents and purposes, we do deal with the sufferings pretty well. It’s the never ending complaining that riles me up.

What we know is that the players are still locked out and pre-season games have been cancelled through the end of September. The season is scheduled to begin on October 11th. As it is, talks could resume as early as Friday of this week. This is certainlythe only option left, so why waste it?

As dismal as things may seem (or may become), we still desire to talk about the game. In one capacity or another, you can’t scroll news or twitter feeds without some sort of hockey discussion going on. Whether it’s about who is right or wrong, breaking news, rumors, or Chris Chelios acting like Chris Chelios. The conversations continue. And that’s thanks to passion.

I recently received my latest issue of The Hockey News magazine. To my surprise, it was an “NHL Season Preview: The Lockout-Schmockout Issue”. Not only did they still choose a Stanley Cup victor (Vancouver), but they went ahead and listed the Top 20 for each position.

Talk about resilient. Editor-in-Chief Jason Kay seemed resigned to the fact of having to publish a monthly issue with the possibility of not one puck being dropped, yet optimistic…if that makes sense.

“…As such, we’re already well positioned for an NHL shutdown – in the event of no games, we’d simply continue to do and explore more of the same…A break in the action would be unfortunate, but the crisis would give us time and space to expand our canvas.”

Time and space to expand our canvas…I like that. It’s one of those things that few people realize is the most important. Take ESPN and their attaché to the Chicago Blackhawks. Not only is (my opinion) the coverage crap labeled “ESPN” and served daily, it rarely has anything new to it. All the press passes in the world aren’t going to help when the game is never played. Sure, sound-bytes at informal practices are well and good, but eventually what more can they say other than “yep, still waiting”?

Keeping things fresh and new isn’t just for the reader. It’s us too. Since we’re all in this together, we all need to be informed. But who wants to read the same article, let alone write it? Not me. It’s why I don’t feel bad when I write about my odd dreams.

Anyway, the Blackhawks were pretty well represented in THN’s season preview. They were chosen to finish 4th in the Western Conference behind St. Louis, Vancouver, and Los Angeles respectively. Defensemen Duncan Keith ranked highest among Hawks D at 8th of 20. Brent Seabrook nudged in at 19th.

Marian Hossa, who played in more regular season games last year than in recent memory has been recovering quite well from the garbage hit that ended his season. Coupled with nearly a point per game average, Hossa tops out at 2nd on their list for top Right Wings. Fresh from Columbus, New York Ranger Rick Nash is 1st.

The list of top Centers is filled with its typical “no shit” selections (Top 3 – Evgeni Malkin, Steven Stamkos, and Sidney Crosby). But there is one selection that might be found interesting. Of course Jonathan Toews is on the list, coming in at 7th. Some of you might be shocked, worried, and/or relieved that Patrick Kane ranks at 17th for top Centers in the league. Really, this makes me want hockey more to see a full season of Kane at the dot. I anticipate better results than most.

To round it out, Patrick Sharp broke the top ten for Left Wing coming in at 8th. It’s no surprise that our goaltending wasn’t shined on. Yet, it’s an interesting list when Mikka Kiprusoff still comes in at 7th

Expand your canvas, hockey fans. There’s plenty to go around until this mess gets clean.

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