This is my mailbag. There are many like it, but this one is mine. Which NHL player would make the best figure skater? How do you quit a bad team? And is Love Actually a good movie? All this and more in another exciting mailbag to carry you through the holidays!
1. Rule Them All
The protective netting above the glass is in play.
Think about it. What are hockey’s two biggest problems? Not enough goals and too many stoppages. A guy is skating down the wing, he winds up and — even though everyone in the building knows the defenseman is going to get his stick in the shooting lane in time to deflect the puck out of play — he shoots and the puck flies into the netting. This happens between five and 10 times per game. It’s always a letdown because it denies a shot on goal.
Now imagine instead of a whistle and line changes, the puck goes off the netting, back to the ice and play continues. The chaos that’s created from the bounce off the net will lead to excitement and goals. Maybe the puck comes to rest harmlessly in the corner… OR MAYBE IT LANDS IN THE CREASE!!! The idea of a playoff series being won when a puck caroms off the net 40 feet in the air, off the goaltender and into the net makes me giddy. I need this.
From a practical standpoint, this takes away the chances of a game being decided by an official not seeing a puck hit the netting, which famously happened in that Red Wings-Kings game a couple years ago. It’s hard to tell sometimes if the puck hit the netting or the top of the glass, so this is one fewer thing for the officials to worry about.
The NHL can add a sponsor, too. “The Bass Pro Shops Net Goal Of The Week.” Or they can have Sandra Bullock do a weekly segment called “The Net,” where she goes over all the net goals from that week or month.
(Sandra Bullock starred in a movie called The Net.)
It may seem silly, but it makes sense on every level. Elect me NHL commissioner in 2020 (or whenever or however they do that sort of thing).
2. Aloofin’ Islanders
My advice — treat the Islanders like a bad HBO show.
Pick one. The Newsroom. The Leftovers. Westworld. There’s no doubt you can find large numbers of people that enjoy each show, but we all know you’re hate-watching to some degree. That’s sometimes healthy, but if you’re at a point where you want to quit watching something, here’s what you do:
And when it comes to the Islanders, you’re about to have the perfect offseason that allows you to bail.
Westworld just ended and won’t be on again for another nine months. That’s a much longer offseason than what you get with the NHL, but with the Islanders already doomed to miss the postseason, you will get six solid months to burn them from your system. You don’t think about a bad TV show when it’s not on, right? So don’t think about the Islanders.
They fire their coach? Who cares? You don’t care when a bad TV show changes writers, right? So don’t let the new coach news suck you in. Free agents coming? Free agents going? Think of this as when Boardwalk Empire would add some actor to play some bad guy for a season. You knew he was dying at some point and you know some dude the Islanders signed to a one-year deal is leaving after the season. Don’t get sucked back.
Then you have the crippling thing that can ruin any good show: the best actor doesn’t come back for the next season, making it all pointless.
John Tavares is probably leaving. If not this offseason, then probably the next one. It’s like George Clooney leaving ER to do big-budget movies. Yeah, Noah Wyle is a fine actor, but he’s not enough to keep you happy. With Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen gone, heck, the Islanders don’t even have a Noah Wyle. There’s not even an Anthony Edwards.
Next season, in early October, watch something else. Anything else. Heck, watch ER reruns for a couple hours. You will be happy and probably have more money in your pocket come April.
3. Quit It
This is tough. For those that don’t know, Patrick Roy has literally quit on his team twice — once as a player early in the 1995-96 season for the Montreal Canadiens, then again as a coach this past offseason for the Colorado Avalanche. You’d think the mid-season quit as one of the best goaltenders in NHL history would be the answer, but you’d think wrong.
Roy was a .907 goaltender that year and finished top-10 in Vezina Trophy voting. His primary replacement, Jocelyn Thibault, had a .913 in 40 games, which means he outplayed Roy. Yes, Roy went on to win the Stanley Cup with the Avs that season, but the Habs made the playoffs and were just fine in the short term with Thibault.
Roy quit the Avs on Aug. 11, which is super-duper late in the offseason to bail on a team. The Avs’ season had been over for nearly four months before he got so sad about not getting his way that he chose to screw the team that served as a landing spot when he chose to screw the Habs in 1995. I don’t believe in karma, but this is a pretty good case for it.
Why? Because the Avs, who were bad under Roy, a bad coach, are even worse under new coach Jared Bednar. I can’t imagine how difficult this transition must be for Bednar and his players, but this season essentially became a write-off after Roy quit. Bednar wasn’t hired until Aug. 25, right before training camp started, so this situation was doomed entirely because Roy quit.
Somehow, Roy quitting while in his prime as a goaltender was less of a problem then him quitting while in his prime as a bad coach.
4. Dubie Do
I will take the bold stance that Devan Dubnyk, a career .917 goaltender, will not maintain a .947 save percentage for the remainder of the season. In his best season, Dubnyk had a .926 split between the Wild and Coyotes. He was .936 in half the season with the Wild after coming over from Arizona, but that’s still wildly (get it?) high for him.
Let’s say Dubnyk finishes the season at .930, which is about one point higher than his career average over three years with Minnesota. That means he will have about a .919 save percentage over his final 40 starts or so. He could do better than that, of course, and have an insanely great year that wins him the Vezina, but even if he returns to a .930, going .919 over 40 games isn’t really a collapse.
If and when the Wild stumble, it will be because they can’t score goals, not because their goaltender failed to stop nearly 95 percent of pucks for 65 games.
5. Well Actually
Love Actually is a good movie. It’s been around so long that you don’t need to explain why you like or don’t like it. It’s like asking why someone doesn’t like Pierre McGuire. Even if you like him, you really should know by now why others don’t.
This answer allows The Comeback to appear in Love Actually searches now. You’re welcome.
6. Swede Disposition
This list begins and ends with Erik Karlsson. No hockey player has the frame for figure skating, but Karlsson is close enough. He’s not “skinny,” but he’s wiry enough where I will allow for this to be plausible. There’s no way Sidney Crosby is getting that butt of his into the air for spins.
Is Karlsson graceful? Check. Is he fast? Check. Does he have powerful strides? Check again. As long as someone choreographs a routine for him, he could probably win a national title. As best as I can tell, two-time national Swedish champion Ondrej Spiegl has never won an Olympic medal, so how good could he be?
Of course, knowing Karlsson’s career, he will become obviously the best male figure skater in the world, but judges will award gold to some Canadian who’s fine at what he does but only wins because voters think he does better triple axels in his own zone.