Formerly published in The Other Press. Nov. 6 2012
The storylines we’ll miss because of the NHL lockout
By Elliot Chan, Contributor
A lot was planned for the 2012-2013 NHL season and patient hockey fans might not see any of it. The damage is done and as soon as the millionaires finish bickering over dollar bills, we can get the game back on the ice and answer the questions we have been asking since early summer.
Aside from complaining about the weather, Canucks fanatics entertain each other with goaltending discussions. Well, I guess they can still blame Roberto Luongo for the storm clouds, but the main query on the burner is how much longer will they have their favorite scapegoat for. Trade speculations have been boiling ever since backup Cory Schneider took over in net late in last season’s first round playoff series. Rumors circulated about Luongo returning back to the Florida state or heading eastbound to Toronto, but here in Vancouver he remains blocking out the sun with no net to defend.
Yes, change is bound to happen, but one change Vancouver doesn’t want is their position on top of the NHL standings. For the second consecutive year, the Canucks have won the Presidents’ Trophy. It’s not the Stanley Cup, but it’s still something to be proud of. But they have been playing in a docile Division, the Northwest. While Calgary and Colorado fight just to make the playoffs, Edmonton and Minnesota linger at the bottom of the standings, collecting high draft picks. Vancouver has dominated in the past, but their time on the throne is ticking and experts believe this might be the last year the Canucks have before players in rival teams fully develop.
Elsewhere, the lockout halted many more entertaining scenarios. Blockbuster trades during the off-season created spectacles early on, but for now we can only imagine how game breakers fit into new teams. New York Rangers superstar Rick Nash, former captain of the Columbus Blue Jackets, is expected to be the last missing piece in the Rangers’ playoff success. In Carolina, the Hurricane’s captain Eric Staal welcomed his brother Jordan, former player of the Pittsburgh Penguins to play alongside him. What impact will their sibling connection have on the team’s chemistry?
There are new players and then there are old players. Detroit Red Wings fans are wondering how big Nicklas Lidström’s retirement will play in the grand scheme of things. While New Jersey Devils’ organization hopes that the last playoff run was not Martin Brodeur’s final gasp for glory.
The lockout is also holding back the return of many great players that have suffered injuries. Sidney Crosby, the captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins, has been ready for competition for months now. As for a player like Chris Pronger, future hall of famer and captain of Philadelphia Flyers, the question on returning still hangs in the air. After suffering from post-concussion symptoms at the ripe age of 38, is there anything left for him to return to?
If there are uncertain expectations for some, then there are high expectations for others. Players like Shea Webber, Alexander Ovechkin, Ilya Bryzgalov, and Erik Karlsson are expected to meet and exceed expectations after receiving new contracts or suffering from a subpar year.
The loss of a hockey season does not simply mean the absence of goals, saves, and numbers on a scoresheet. Storylines leave a permanent mark and that is what makes watching sports the ultimate reality television show.