Not-So-Free Agency and Other Small Tidbits from Draft Weekend

Another exciting weekend comes and goes for the NHL. Draft day is always one of the most surprising and intriguing days on the calendar, and once again we are blessed with a bevy of good decisions, a couple of poor ones, shrieks of joy from some families, and utter disappointment for more than one young player.

Players ranked in the first round dropped to the second, and some even further than that. One fanbase is already looking towards next summer, while the other 29 are all gearing up for a hopefully improved season from their team.

We saw a Chinese-born hockey player get drafted. I know I didn’t see that coming. If you had told me that out of the 3 or 4 major Eastern Asian regions that mainland China would be the first to have a player drafted in the post-cap era, I would have laughed. Yet here we are.

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The Blackhawks’ Demise is Still Very, Very Premature

The Blackhawks are the Stanley Cup Champions yet again. Did it come easy? Absolutely not.

Credit the Lightning a ton, because for all the talk about how the Blackhawks held the possession/advanced stats advantage (however slim) heading into the series, it was the Lightning who pushed the pace for long stretches. But they didn’t, or couldn’t capitalize on their chances. And when the Blackhawks got one, they buried it like a dagger in the hearts of men.

The Blackhawks were not necessarily the better team on paper. But it was the better team on the ice. And when the pressure mounted, it was the Hawks who held firm and plugged away, while the Lightning panicked and forced plays. Stretch passes that were cut off, shots that were flung towards the goal with reckless abandon, only to be deflected away.

You want to know what organizational culture looks like? That’s what it looks like. That’s what it’s like to have a captain that commands respect and camaraderie. That’s what it’s like to have a coaching staff that pushes the right buttons time and again. That’s what it’s like to have senior advisers as former coaches who’ve won more games than anyone else, ever.

And guess what? The claims that the Hawks are facing their inevitable demise….well, let’s just say that isn’t happening just yet.

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Hockey in China? You betcha.

Recently, NBC showed a clip of Chinese broadcasters covering an NHL game:

First off, that’s actually more common than you’d think. The NHL has a deal with CCTV to broadcast its games. CCTV airs games 3-5 times a week on national television and will have every Stanley Cup final game covered.

I know this because I am, how to put it, “not very good at Mandarin Chinese” and the last time I was in mainland China, I was stuck watching the series “Pleasant Goat and Big Bad Wolf” with my younger brother. Yes, it’s a real show, look it up. Sadly to say, I was actually fond of it, meaning that if anyone who personally knows me ever reads this blog, my social life is beyond doomed. Listen, the show had its moments.

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Slava Fetisov is a Hockey Hero….but even Heroes Make Poor Decisions

Viacheslav Fetisov is a great player. There’s no questioning that fact. Inarguably one of the finest defensemen of his generation (who knows how productive he could have been had he played his prime years in the NHL) and a Cup champion.

But his recent comments regarding the KHL and its out-flux of talent is definitely strange. Shortsighted. Out of character. And one that has largely defined the extents to which the Kontinental Hockey League has been hit by the economic situation in Russia, and just how far there is left for the league to fall.

For those that don’t know what I’m talking about, as reported by the Associated Press:

Fetisov, who is now a senator in Russia, tells Russia’s R-Sport news agency that federal law should be used to stop Russian players from moving to North America before they turn 28.

The aim is to keep “our most talented guys, the ones who the people come to see.”

Now, it must be noted that this regulation, if it passes, would be applied to ALL KHLers under the age limit, not just Russian players.

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