When you look at the wide variety of nations that produce hockey talent, it’s quite possible that NHL is truly the most “worldwide” of sports leagues. We could debate that point, but there should be little doubt that the mixture of European and North American players benefits the game as a whole on a profound level.
Yet when it comes to Canadian hockey fans, they still want to see their regional teams stocked heavily with their “own.” The Ottawa Citizen published some interesting poll results which reveal that the majority of Canadians would prefer their area teams to meet a certain “quota” of Canadian-born talent. Especially when you’re talking about the Canadiens.
Nationally, 53 per cent of the respondents in a survey commissioned by the Montreal-based Association for Canadian Studies said they agreed with the idea that Canadian-based NHL teams should have a minimum percentage of Canadian players.
Nearly three-quarters of the French speakers polled — 72 per cent – agreed with having a minimum percentage of Canadian players on the country’s six NHL teams: the Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens.
Only 46 per cent of English-speaking respondents felt the same way.
While 69 per cent of Quebec respondents agreed with the concept, support was lower, but still significant in other parts of the country: Atlantic Canada (54 per cent), Alberta (51 per cent), B.C. (47 per cent), Ontario (46 per cent) and Manitoba/Saskatchewan (45 per cent).
It’s human nature to root for your own, so to speak. (That probably explains why I always grin when I see the Irish Guy from “Oz” on the mediocre insurance company commecials he shoots now.)
Still, I imagine that fans only focus on the nationality of their team’s players when those teams are losing. Something tells me that Habs fans were able to reconcile the fact that Jaroslav Halak is Slovakian when he helped them get to the Eastern Conference finals. Stocking Canadian teams with Canadians – especially an even more specific group such as French-Canadians – isn’t so easy in a 30 team league with an annual entry draft.
The days of nabbing Jean Beliveau and Maurice Richard-type talent without getting No.1 picks or shelling out big bucks are over, but some fans seem like they’re still struggling to accept that.
The Los Angeles Kings may owe Mike Richards money until 2031 (seriously), but in settling his grievance, the team and player more or less get to turn the page.
Not before Kings GM Dean Lombardi shares his sometimes startling perspective, though.
Lombardi has a tendency to be candid, especially in the press release-heavy world of sports management. Even by his standards, his account of Richards’ “destructive sprial” is a staggering read from the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman.
“Without a doubt, the realization of what happened to Mike Richards is the most traumatic episode of my career,” Lombardi said in a written summation he provided to the Los Angeles Times. “At times, I think that I will never recover from it. It is difficult to trust anyone right now – and you begin to question whether you can trust your own judgment. The only thing I can think of that would be worse would be suspecting your wife of cheating on you for five years and then finding out in fact it was true.”
Lombardi provides plenty of eyebrow-raising statements to Dillman, including:
- He believed he “found his own Derek Jeter” in Richards, a player who “at one time symbolized everything that was special about the sport.”
- Lombardi remarked that “his production dropped 50 percent and the certain ‘it’ factor he had was vaporizing in front of me daily.”
- The Kings GM believes that he was “played” by Richards.
Again, it’s a powerful read that you should soak in yourself, even if you’re unhappy with the way the Kings handled the situation.
Maybe the most pressing of many lingering questions is: will we get to hear Richards’ side of the story?
Despite owning two Stanley Cup rings, there are a healthy number of people who aren’t wild about Jonathan Quick.
Those people might feel validated through the Los Angeles Kings’ first two games, as he followed a rough loss to the San Jose Sharks with a true stinker against the Arizona Coyotes on Friday.
Sometimes a goalie has a bad night stats-wise, yet his team is as much to blame as anything else. You can probably pin this one on Quick, who allowed four goals on just 14 shots through the first two periods.
Things died down in the final frame, but let’s face it; slowing things down is absolutely the Coyotes’ design with a 4-1 lead (which ultimately resulted in a 4-1 win).
A soft 1-0 goal turned out to be a sign of things to come:
Many expected the Kings to roar into this second game after laying an egg in their opener. Instead, the Coyotes exploited Quick’s struggles for a confidence-booster, which included key prospect Max Domi scoring a goal and an assist.
It’s worth mentioning that Mike Smith looked downright fantastic at times, only drawing more attention to Quick’s struggles.
After a troubled summer and a failed 2014-15 season, Los Angeles was likely eager to start things off the right way.
Instead, they instead will likely focus on the fact that they merely dropped two (ugly) games.