This has been quite a year so far for one of my new certified hockey man crushes, Ryan Kesler. His fantastic Olympic performance was given a highlight reel exclamation point when he scored quite possibly the most exciting empty net goal I’ve ever seen against Team Canada (in the teams’ first game). His “coward” remark toward Andrew Ladd brought him into the headlines again.
Now he can add another interesting accomplishment: Kesler will be the cover star of the next (and now Wii-exclusive) NHL 2K game, NHL 2K11.
I have to say I’m a little surprised by this. Don’t get me wrong, Kesler is my hero, but there’s no denying that this marks a big star power drop-off from last year’s cover star (goal scoring machine Alex Ovechkin). One could be snide and say that the struggling series is trying to save money, but there are a few reasons – aside from Kesler being super cool – that the company made such a non-traditional choice. (Also, they’ve had role players on their cover before. See: Chris Drury. Zing!)
Perhaps part of the strategy is that avid hockey fans from Canada like him since he’s a member of the Vancouver Canucks while he can appeal to American fans as a gritty player who represented the U.S. in the Olympics. The 2K brand has done something similar with its NBA2K series, putting a defensive-minded player named Ben Wallace on a cover of one of their editions. (That being said, Wallace had an awesome afro and you know what they say, “Fros sell.”)
The most likely reasoning, though, is that he developed a relationship with the company already. Last year, he helped the company motion capture hockey moves for the sake of authenticity and also appeared in their commercials (I’m still not sure if I’m amused or annoyed by those spots, by the way). Anyway, regardless of all the small details, congratulations are in order. Well done, Mr. Kesler.
(H/T to Nucks Misconduct.)
As PHT’s mentioned before, the Florida Panthers stand as a fascinating contrast between youth and experience.
Let’s not kid ourselves, though; fresh faces usually beat out gray beards, at least when it comes to teams that are still trying to build toward contender status.
While it’s by no means official, two Panthers beat writers – the Miami Herald’s George Richards and the Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Harvey Fialkov – report that the Panthers are likely to pass on Martin Havlat.
It wasn’t just about the likes of Jonathan Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad leading the charge. Other young Panthers (maybe most notably Quinton Howden and Connor Brickley) made the team, thus making Havlat less necessary.
One would assume that it might be tough for the 34-year-old to find work, at least if he insists upon only an NHL deal.
Health issues continue to dog him, but he’s no longer one of those guys who tantalizes with talent when he is healthy enough to play.
Havlat also doesn’t really bring much to the table defensively. While other veterans can kill penalties and show a little more verstaility, Havlat’s greatest selling point is scoring.
Could this be it for a solid career that may nonetheless end with a “What if?” or two?
Considering all of the controversy surrounding the 41-game suspension for Raffi Torres, some might have lost track of the guy who received that hit: Jakob Silfverberg.
The good news is that, at the moment, it seems like he’s OK.
The Anaheim Ducks announced that he skated on his own and will be involved in the team’s next practice:
That falls in line with some of the fall-out from the hit, as head coach Bruce Boudreau let out a relieved “thank goodness” at the young forward seemingly dodging a bullet.
Here’s video of the hit and the suspension decision:
Silfverberg, 24, enjoyed a nice breakout in 2014-15, especially during the playoffs.
Keep in mind that injuries can sometimes crop up later than expected, especially potential head injuries/concussions. Still, it seems like the initial reaction is that the damage was minimal.