In a sport generally, if not frequently, missing its two front teeth, “All I wanted for Christmas” was:
• Some 72 hours leading up to NHL Awards 2016 – to be hosted by MGM Grand Garden arena on Wed., June 22 – I ask for NHL commissioner Gary “Santa” Bettman to make the official announcement that for his silver anniversary as the league’s Big Cheese to declare Las Vegas as the league’s 31st franchise.
In keeping with a tradition created by the old ECHL Las Vegas Wranglers, I wish for an occasional home start at midnight, but with no children allowed to attend so the Ice Girls may skate topless, just like many of their friends dancing at other venues along the Strip.
Plus, it will be okay if crowds will be rooting for the visiting team – I’m from San Diego, so I am quite used to it – especially when “my” Los Angeles Kings come to town. Yes, I wish to watch the Silver & Black come to the Silver State.
That reminds me: NHL Las Vegas will need a nickname and color scheme. Just, please, no glitter or sequins – GamingToday columnist Monti Rock III (who just celebrated his 15th anniversary with this publication) would roll over in his grave.
Gold skates – the blades, not the boot (sorry, Charlie O. Finley) – would also be interesting and unique without being too strikingly weird.
• The NHL’s four divisions should become independent conferences.
Right now, the Central and Pacific divisions are so strong, the Stanley Cup Final will definitely go to the survivor in the West.
Instead, seed the final four teams and let the East teams fall in the semifinals and allow two West Coast teams to play for the Stanley Cup. Sure, television ratings will be low, but they would be anyway.
Then in a couple of years, when the East recovers, a potential Boston or Montreal matchup with one of the Tri-State teams or Washington would send Lord Nielsen’s numbers (http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/) over the top.
• Various media outlets are making strong cases against L.A. Kings defenseman Drew Doughty for the Norris Awards as the NHL’s top blueliner.
Of course, you figure I would be all over the Doughty bandwagon… but you would be wrong. Although he may be one of the best in the sport, he has yet to be thee No. 1 defender in the league in any one season. Top Five? Sure, almost all of the time.
However, if the Kings can re-extend their Pacific Division lead to more than 10 points, Doughty may be in line for Norris hardware as the best player on one of the league’s top teams. But even this year, would he deserve it? Sorry, nope – but this is my Christmas wish list.
• When it comes to Eastern Conference clubs, I’ve always felt a touch sorry for the Washington Capitals.
Since their 8-wins-in-80-games debut in 1974-75, this club’s lack of success has been Chicago Cubs-like daunting. Yes, they have been to the Stanley Cup Finals before – once, in 1998, but were swept by Detroit. Thus, they’ve posted as many SCF wins as me (or the San Jose Sharks).
But when I see, of all people, Alex Ovechkin hustling on defense, it’s no wonder Washington zoomed past the N.Y. Rangers recently to take over first place in the Metropolitan Division. Thus, I am rooting for a Kings-Caps championship series – I always pick “my” Kings… with my fingers crossed.
• Look out for the Calgary Flames, which just established a franchise record by capturing their 11th consecutive home game on Sunday, rallying from a pair of two-goal deficits to topple Edmonton.
Again Johnny Gaudreau and Mark Giordano set the scoring pace with two goals each, but it was a short-handed tally by Matt Stajan that ignited the Flames to the game’s final four goals.
The recent hot streaks by Calgary and Arizona has moved every team in the division except L.A. to within five points of each other with preseason Cup favorite Anaheim now resting in dead last.
• A team from the Sunshine State is the new leader in the Atlantic Division, but it doesn’t hail from the Gulf Coast. Although the door was wide open for Detroit, it’s the Florida Panthers (20-12-4) who lead this talent-depleted division.
Montreal, on a tie-breaker fell to third place, but only one point ahead of the two wild card teams: Boston and Ottawa.
Contact Nick at [email protected].