It was quite a first week in the NHL.
Winnipeg welcomed back the Jets and gave Gary Bettman a standing ovation, an agent went ballistic over a two-game suspension, Sidney Crosby didn’t play, Jaromir Jagr returned, the Sabres, Leafs, Capitals, Flyers, Red Wings, Predators, Sharks and Oilers were undefeated, Don Cherry looked foolish, the Blue Jackets, Flames, and Jets went pointless, thankfully Lowetide didn’t change his ways and a few players inched closer to some great achievements.
The best part about the Jets home opener is that it’s over, and now we can concentrate on actual games. I’m very excited for Jets’ fans, but the build up almost became too much. It was Jets, Jets, Jets everyday, and it seemed every person needed to marvel at the passion of Winnipeggers. Of course they were passionate, the fans were passionate before they left in 1996.
I did find it a bit strange how the guy they villified for years was given a hero’s welcome upon his return to Winnipeg. Bettman finally made up for his mistake of letting the Jets leave without a fight fifteen years ago. He has learned from that mistake, which is why Phoenix still has a team for another six months, which is nice to see.
Welcome back Jets fans, but be prepared for a rough season. You might want to talk to some Oiler diehards on how to deal with losing, because unfortunately they’ve become too familiar with it for the past five seasons.
- I’m guessing most agree that Cherry was offside in his comments regarding Chris Nilan, Jim Thomson and Stu Grimson. The name calling was childish, and lumping Grimson in with the other two was completely inaccurate. I really wasn’t surprised Cherry said what he said, because he’s Cherry. That is his gig. He screwed up, and he felt the backlash for the next four of five days, but let’s move on. I hope that Stu Grimson just moves on from it. Is he really going to contemplate suing the former Bruins’ coach? Would anything come of it? What would it prove? That Don was out to lunch on this topic, I think most of us have already realized he was. There are much bigger issues to worry about.
- I’m going to set October 30th as the line on when Crosby returns. Over or under, what do you think? I’ll take over.
- Eight teams have yet to lose a game, but which one will stay undefeated the longest? Will any of them match the record for most wins to start a season, 10, set by the Leafs in 1993/94? I don’t see any of them going 10-0, but I’ll pick the Flyers to go the longest. They have lots of home games coming up.
- The Blue Jackets, Flames and Jets would really have to work hard to tie the 1943/44 Rangers’ record of 11 consecutive losses to start a season. I think the Flames will go the longest, since Columbus hosts Colorado this week and the Jets’ 3rd game of the year is in Phoenix. I can’t see how the Karma Gods won’t ensure they win in Phoenix on Saturday night.
- Lowetide, the minute you conform for those who don’t know you is the day your soul will die. Glad to see you are still writing great articles filled with the odd picture of a classy lady. Don’t change.
- Allan Walsh had quite the week. How many of you had heard of him until this week? He is an agent. He ripped the Capitals for having the gall to not start his client, Tomas Vokoun, for the season opener. Supposedly the Capitals gave Vokoun the impression when they signed him that he was going to be the starter. I guess Walsh forgot that training camp and preseason is a competition for playing time. Agents shouldn’t moan publicly when their client doesn’t get to play, because it makes both of them look like whiners. Then Walsh ranted and raved about another client, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, and his two-game suspension. How is highsticking a guy in the face, because he bumped you off the draw, not a suspension?
Be better Mr. Walsh, be better.
- Like most years the early-season NHL leaderboard is filled with many names that won’t be there at the end of the season. Of the current top-30 scorers in the league only five them were in the top-30 at the end of last season; Anze Kopitar, Daniel Sedin, Marty St.Louis, Eric Staal and Thomas Vanek. I saved the first week leaders and I’ll see how many of them end the season in the top 30. I’ll guess nine.
- There will be a few personal milestones reached this season. Jarome Iginla is now 15 goals shy of 500. He is currently tied for 45 in career goals with Brian Bellows (485) and he’ll pass Norm Ullman (490), Jean Ratelle (491) and Glenn Anderson (498) on his way to 500. He’s also likely to pass Lanny MacDonald (500), Joe Mullen (502), Peter Bondra (503), Jean Beliveau (507), Gilbert Perrault (512) and Jeromy Roenick (513) this year. If Iginla can average 23 goals over the next five season he’ll become the 18th player to score 600 goals. I think he gets there.
- Iginla will be the last 500 goal man for a few seasons. Jason Arnott is next at 402, with Daniel Alfredsson at 391, Marian Hossa at 388 and Ilya Kovalchuk at 370. Arnott and Alfredsson won’t play long enough to get to 500, so look for Kovalchuk to be the next player in the 500 club.
- Jaromir Jagr picked up his 1,600th career point in the Flyers’ season opener, and he needs 42 points to pass Joe Sakic (1,641) for 8th all-time. Jagr is currently 12th in goals with 646. He should pass Brendan Shanahan, 656, this year, and if he scores 23 goals he’ll pass Luc Robitaille, 668, and sit 10th all-time.
- Jagr can also become only the 12th player to register 1,000 career assists. He needs 46 helpers to join an elite group. Wayne Gretzky is first with 1,963, followed by Ron Francis (1,249), Mark Messier (1,193), Ray Bourque (1,169), Paul Coffey (1,135), Adam Oates (1,079), Steve Yzerman (1,063), Gordie Howe (1,049), Marcel Dionne (1,040), Mario Lemieux (1,033) and Joe Sakic (1,016).
- Teemu Selanne, 637, trails Jagr by nine goals. Selanne will pass Dave Andreychuk, 640, and Shanahan this year. Who do you think finishes the season with more career goals, Jagr or Selanne? I’ll take the Finnish Flash.
- Selanne is tied for 5th in career PP goals with Mario Lemieux at 236. He trails Shanahan (237), Robitaille (247), Brett Hull (265) and Andreychuk (274). He’ll be 3rd after this season.
- Late last season Joe Thornton became the 78th player to reach 1,000 points. He finished the year with 1,001. No one will be getting there this year. Ray Whitney is the active leader at 927. If he scores 39 points he will pass "The Rocket", Maurice Richard (965) and move into 83rd place all-time. Not bad for a guy the Oilers put on waivers in 1997.
- If Whitney plays another year after this he could reach 1,000. Arnott has 907 points, but based on his past few seasons, he’ll need to play this year plus two more to get into quadruple digits.
- If you care about PIMs. Matt Cooke is ten away from 1,000, Danile Carcillo needs 14 and Cory Sarich is 27 shy. Cooke will become the 356th player to spend 1,000 minutes in the sin bin/dressing room.
Final note: For those wondering, the Ice Women of the Week runs on Fridays not Wednesday anymore. Just so you don’t freak out.