Some Rebuild Myths, and How the Calgary Flames are Defying Them, Part I

Fresh off a first round, maybe not upset, but definitely an eye-raiser, over the crosstown rival Vancouver Canucks, the Cardiac Kids just keep on rolling. The Calgary Flames are everyone’s darling on the ice, lately, and for good reason. They’re fast, they’re exciting, and most of all they’re symbolic of the kind of never-say-die underdogs that people love to cheer for. When a team like that is succeeding, you can’t help but respect them.

Make no mistake about it; this is a team that has a whole lot of that little “it” factor. Call it character, call it moxie, call it intangibles, but whatever it is, the whole organization oozes it in spades. This is significant for me because I’m a huge stats nerd and you can’t measure intangibles; that’s kind of why they’re labelled as such.

And this is still a team in its formative stages. Can I guarantee that the team’s young talent continues to improve? No. But I can give you a good guess and say that they’ll give it as good a shot as anyone else in the league. Why? Because this is a team that has defied the odds all the way, and that winning mentality is one that has been carefully nurtured by the higher ups for the last 2 years.

This is a rebuilding team. But it’s not your standard rebuilding team.

Continue reading Some Rebuild Myths, and How the Calgary Flames are Defying Them, Part I

The Hopes and Dreams of Asian Hockey (and How It’s Not Always a Great Thing)

One of the things I like to keep up on are the rare hockey players that share my ethnicity. In a way, it’s comforting to know that I am not the only Asian out there with a passion for the sport. Take Cliff Pu, pictured above, who’s a former high OHL draft pick and is draft-eligible for 2016. It’ll take a herculean effort from him in order to pass the 3-headed monster of Auston Matthews, Jesse Puljujarvi and Jakob Chychrun at the top of what looks to be another strong draft class, but he’s a name who will be worth watching heading into the 2015-16 season.

Make no mistake about it. Chinese people can love sports just as much as anyone. Smart teams take advantage of this fact; witness Manchester United’s efforts to brand itself in Oriental markets. The English Premier League is the most popular sport league in the world, and that extends itself into Southeast Asia as well.

Ice hockey has a cult following in Eastern Asia. The Asia League has been around for a number of years. NHL games are broadcast on some channels (taped, of course) as many as a few nights a week (I know this because I’ve been on vacation and channel-flipped before; yes, I’m that desperate for my kicks). But given the sheer number of people living in that area of the world, it’s clear that the NHL as a whole has a pretty big blank spot in the category entitled, “Chinese, Korean and Japanese Hockey Fans”.

Continue reading The Hopes and Dreams of Asian Hockey (and How It’s Not Always a Great Thing)