Despite Good Press, NHL Looking to Change EBUG Status

You know, people didn’t this irate when Scott Foster came into the game for the Blackhawks, stopped seven shots thrown at him by the Winnipeg Jets, and was named first star for the Blackhawks that night. I guess it’s because the Maple Leafs couldn’t create offense against their minor-league Zamboni driver that makes the talking heads North of the Border all up in arms.

Thanks to the performance David Ayres had, to which he got the win over the Maple Leafs with eight saves– it seems that it got people in Toronto all butt-hurt and is now apparently going to be a talking point at the next round of GM Meetings next week. I guess, since it happened to the Leafs on National TV; there’s an issue with who can become an emergency back-up.

Honestly, though, you have to think there needs to be some kind of parameters to the EBUG situation. To have a 42-year-old slotted as the emergency goalie seems a bit odd. Especially in Toronto when there’s more goalies per capita than any other place in the world (don’t fact check it– I didn’t).

But where do the qualifications come from?? Any goalie who is trying to make it is already out there trying to make it elsewhere and won’t necessarily be available. You almost have to default to former goalies who have hung them up with the exception of beer league and maybe get seen by a coach or someone and gets some practice in with the NHL squad. In the past, some back-ups have come from the Canadian college ranks; but those were when a goalie was injured before the game was even close to starting.

The talent of the EBUG is something that should be hit or miss because you’d never fathom it to happen in a million years. In the past three seasons, we’ve had two come into play and hold their own. And, just like the NHL, there’s a brash overreaction to it despite all the positive press it has given the league since this happened. Not only that, but they’ll ahev to work with the NHLPA to figure out the requirements, to figure out how they can vet these goalies, and what needs to be done so that this doesn’t happen– whether if it’s expanding the roster to three goalies or putting an age limit on it– they’ll make sure that this is the last time we have a fun story of a goalie coming out of the crowd to win the game.

Better Know An Affiliate: Chicago Blackhawks

AHL: Rockford IceHogs (35-31-4-6, 7th in Central, Did Not Qualify for Playoffs)
TEAM LINEAGE: Since 2007, the IceHogs have been serving their in-state parent as their primary affiliate, though the Blackhawks had a tendancy to use other leagues over the AHL for their primary affiliate. Aside from Rockford and previous to them, the Norfolk Admirals; the Hawks used teams in the IHL like the Indianapolis Ice and Saginaw Hawks, as well as teams in the CHL– including the Dallas Black Hawks and St. Louis Braves as their primary affiliates from the 1960s until 2000. They had spot AHL affiliations with the Portland Pirates (1998-99), Nova Scotia Oilers (1985-87), Springfield Indians (1982-84) and New Brunswick Hawks (1978-82). Before that, the Buffalo Bisons were their AHL affiliate from 1954 until 1966. With being an “Original Six” team, the Hawks had many amateur teams in the beginning, as well as teams from the WHL and USHL when they were pro leagues.
FREQUENT FLYER CANDIDATES: While a change of scenery could be a good thing, Alex Nylander may be on the shuttle plenty with his new squad, as he did get better in his second AHL season opposed to his first. Nylander will be in a fight with Dylan Sikura, who himself is in a make-or-break season– as he was a shuttler last season during the Hawks rough season of injury. Collin Delia is the obviously choice depending upon Corey Crawford’s health.

ECHL: Indy Fuel (35-32-2-3, 5th in Central, Did Not Qualify for Playoffs)
TEAM LINEAGE: While the Fuel have been the secondary affiliate for the Blackhawks for five seasons, the length of their secondary with the Toledo Walleye (2009-2014), the times before that were very one-and-done for the Hawks and secondary affiliates. The Fresno Falcons, Greenville Grrrowl, Pensacola Ice Pilots, Roanoke Express, Jackson Bandits, and Hampton Roads Admirals were their all their secondary affiliates from 1999 until 2009.
NOTABLE GRADUATES: Delia has been the standout graduate of this young franchise, making his presence known with the Hawks last season, while the only other notable would be Justin Holl– who started his career in Indy before leaving the Hawks organization to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

2018-19 Season Preview….Kind Of: Western Conference Edition

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Half-assed part 2, let’s go.

The Central Division is an interesting one. For the longest time, it was the Chicago Blackhawks’ playground, but now– it’s almost kind of wide open. The Winnipeg Jets have seemingly found their formula with Blake Wheeler, Patrik Laine, Mark Scheifele, and friends. Their march to the Western Conference finals could have been the coming out party they need. So long as Connor Hellebuyck can keep the good time rolling– maybe this is now a division that belongs to North of the Border for a couple of season.

For the Blackhawks– we’re in the downturn of the dynasty. Despite of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane being there and being in their prime ages– the fact their goaltending in Corey Crawford isn’t always healthy and the depth is suspect at best; the former Dynasty could be in the start of their stagnation moving ahead.

Hard to forget about the Nashville Predators, who are in all-in mode this year as much as they have been. This is pivotal year for the team, especially when they look at what to do with impending UFA Pekka Rinne and how they’ll juggle his time with Juuse Saros’ time in net. Aside from that, they have a defensive corp that one of, if not the tops in the league; their offense is full of top tier talent, and overall– this is a team that’s ready to go and make another big push for the Conference final again this year.

The rest of the division is suspect at best, starting the with Minnesota Wild– who seem to be more of the same. Bruce Boudreau could be on a short leash with new GM Paul Fenton, and with the team in place– I don’t know if that leash could get shorter. Sure, Devan Dubnyk is back, but he can only do so much. The offense is really hit and miss, the star players being in the line-up is hit and miss, and there’s plenty of question marks in the State of Hockey.

Add the St. Louis Blues to that mix, only because of Jake Allen. There’s no Carter Hutton to bail him out anymore and he’ll have to actually show he’s a top goalie in this league. He’ll have a lot of tools in front of him with Vlad Tarasenko, Ryan O’Reilly, Jaden Schwartz with Alex Pieterangelo and Colton Parayko on his defense…there’s no reason why Allen shouldn’t be successful in spite of himself and his own short-comings.

I don’t know what to think of the Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars. The Stars could be a little easier to explain and deal with, as Ben Bishop– if he’s healthy all season– could help them steal a few games here and there. The offense is steady with Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn up there, the defense however, is the question. Stephen Johns is out to start the season, which means Marc Methot and John Klingberg are going to have to shoulder a lot of the load– which could lead to easy burn out. The Avalanche now have Philipp Grubauer as the potential replacement for Semyon Varlamov when he should get injured or have his stats drop off, the team was able to rally around Matt Duchene getting traded, and might have an underrated defense against the rest of the league. The offense is one line, which means they’ll need to find some kind of secondary scoring to actually be across the board successful and get back to the playoffs once again.


Will anyone discount the Vegas Golden Knights this year?? Most likely, yes. The whole “Bet you can’t do it again” crowd will be out, but with the additions of Max Pacioretty and Paul Stastny; the depth of offense is much better. While there will be doubters of M-A Fleury’s heroics and William Karlsson’s scoring prowess, the Knights are making sure they aren’t just a one-hit wonder.

Their toughest challenge will probably come from the San Jose Sharks, who have their best shot at getting into the Stanley Cup Finals with the addition of Erik Karlsson. The former Ottawa defenseman bolsters a blue line with Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, while Joe Thornton is back on the ice and probably much quicker without his beard anymore. Martin Jones has seen his win number decline over the past three seasons, but with an upgrade in front of him, you can bet he’ll have another 30+ win season.

With a healthy Jonathan Quick, the LA Kings were a solid team despite getting bounced in the first round again. Anze Kopitar was far and away the best player and may need to be so again to get the Kings back to the playoffs and maybe advance past the first match-up. That 70s Line will have to be a little be more prominent, though to be honest– losing Jeff Carter most of the season didn’t help things as much.

The Anaheim Ducks are going to have to get all they can out of their depth if they want to make the playoffs again. While John Gibson hasn’t been the best at keeping pucks out, the offense didn’t give him much to work with, as they had to lowest goals-for total of any playoff team last season. With Corey Perry out to start the season, as well; old man Getzlaf will have to rally the troops and hope they don’t get run over.

Of the Canadian teams in this division, the one with the most hope could be from Alberta. Whether it’s the Flames or the Oilers is yet to be seen. The Oilers need to figure out which team was the mirage– was it the team who made the playoffs in 2017 or the team that really stunk up the joint last season. Aside from Connor McDavid, there wasn’t much to write home about. However, the hard-on people have for Ty Rattie with McDavid is almost insane levels of silly– it’s almost a Sedins or Crosby situation with how people are infatuated with his play.

The Flames are an odd duck. They have the talent up front to get into the playoffs with Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, and to a lesser extend Sam Bennett. However, with Bill Peters now at the helm, who knows what can happen. If they’re going to sink to a Carolina level, then it’ll happen quick, but the additions of James Neal and Elias Lindholm up front could bring more attention, while Noah Hanifin could help Mark Giordano on the blue line. If only Mike Smith can get back to some kind of non-sieve form, then they could surprise people.

Not a surprise is the Vancouver Canucks, who really….I don’t know. They have some top-end young talent in Brock Boeser, Bo Horvat, and others, but the real key is waiting for offensive defenseman Quinn Hughes to come from Michigan to Vancouver. If the rebuild is going to happen– it will be around Boeser and Hughes, maybe even Thatcher Demko when he gets the go-ahead to be the Canucks starter. It’s a waiting game for this team.

That leaves us with Arizona. The trade for Alex Galchenyuk is going to help them a whole lot, it’s a matter of managing injuries. Antti Raanta going down early last year hurt and it seems like there’s not much for goalie depth just yet for the Coyotes who could come in and stop the bleeding. Michael Grabner will add speed and a forechecking threat, Clayton Keller continues to grow, and Mario Kempe could surprise people if given the chance. The Coyotes may even push for a wild card…if they can stay healthy.

TEPID TAKE: Hey, Look– Another Blackhawks Outdoor Game

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For Christ’s sake, the Blackhawks and Bruins playing in an outdoor game again??

Alright, well– I guess. Sure, the iconic situation of it being playing at Notre Dame Stadium ticks off another box that the NHL wanted to do in order to have complete world domination of the iconic non-hockey venues to host a hockey game and yes– you almost have to have the Blackhawks because of the proximity, but good lord do we have to keep having the same teams play over and again??

I don’t think that the Winter Classic was designed to have all the NHL teams play in it because if it’s a premier event, the NHL wants to put teams in it who will have a big ratings and attendance. That said, you need to have some sort of sight of what they does for the ratings overall. It’s the same argument made for having the same teams play on NBCSN all the time– people get sick of seeing it and with a gimmick that’s already been beaten to death with teams who have played more than their fair share– this can’t be that great for business.

Face Off Hockey Show had Greg Wyshynski on the show this past week and we asked him the future of these kind of NHL events, to which he said he’d like to see more neutral site games being played between teams to bring more fans in that wouldn’t necessarily see these teams unless they had a trip to do so.

Maybe this is the first step to get more out into neutral site games, but in all honesty– the teams that are in it sour the whole thing. Less of Boston because the Bruins don’t seem to be in these games all too much, but they are overexposed in the national TV side because they do have a big fanbase– not something to hate on, but it’s annoying.

But people will watch, the NHL will very much hype it up, and it will be some kind of success when all is said and done in spite of the teams that are playing in it and the disdain many people have for them.