And that’s all well and good if you’re the sort of person who enjoys happy stories. But what about the other 99 percent of us? What about the fans who want to see a good old-fashioned debacle? Luckily, the NHL seems like it should have plenty of those to offer up too.
As we head toward opening night, here are some of the story lines that are simmering now, but have the potential to boil over some point during the season.
Feel free to watch it over and over until you figure out where the linesman comes from. Just make sure you cancel your plans for the rest of the day first.
The second star: Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle did not steal your girlfriend
Or so Taylor Hall claims. Which is interesting, because that sounds exactly like what a girlfriend-stealer would say.
The first star: John Tortorella hates the world
Granted, this isn’t news. The Rangers coach is crusty at the best of times. But this year, he’s taken it to a new level by not only attacking the media and his own players, but passive-aggressively taking aim at other teams, too. First it was Montreal, and this week he went after the Sabres, telling reporters that “I'm not going to give Buffalo any credit” for its win. (Given their bankruptcy history, not giving the Sabres any credit is probably a smart move.)
It would appear that the NHL’s firing season is upon us. We’ve already seen two GMs relieved of their duties since the lockout ended — Brian Burke’s oddly timed dismissal in Toronto, followed by Scott Howson finally being put out of his misery in Columbus. Last week, we got our first coaching casualty.
And it was a big one. Lindy Ruff had held the distinction of being the NHL’s longest-serving head coach but this month got the pink slip after more than 15 years on the job in Buffalo. If Lindy Ruff can be fired, anyone can.
So who’s next? Let’s take a look around the league at some of the coaches and GMs who find themselves on the hot seat.
It’s probably foolish to try to read anything into two days’ worth of games, especially when half the players in the NHL are still trying to get back to pre-lockout form. But that’s no reason not to try, so here are 10 random observations from the NHL’s opening weekend:
The Blues made a statement
The St. Louis Blues entered the season as a trendy pick to win the Western Conference. They looked the part Saturday, pummeling the Detroit Red Wings, 6-0, and outshooting them, 17-2, in a first-period display that played out as a near-perfect depiction of Ken Hitchcock hockey.
The game also featured the breakout performance of opening weekend, with Blues rookie Vladimir Tarasenko scoring a pair of goals, including a filthy individual effort in his NHL debut. The 21-year-old 2010 first-round pick has spent the last few seasons in the KHL, and could make a major impact if he can bring consistent production to a Blues offense that wasn’t exactly intimidating last year.
But while Tarasenko could be the league’s next big star, let’s hold off on the hype until we see him do it against an NHL-caliber defense.
Three Stars of Comedy is a new feature that will take a look back at the month that was in the NHL, and recognize three personalities from around the league who produced the most comedy fodder for fans. It will appear every month during the regular season, or until the NBA lockout is settled and Grantland stops covering hockey.
The Honorable Mentions
The NHL is a funny league, and some worthy candidates didn’t quite make the cut. Before we get to this month’s winners, here’s a few who fell just short.
Arron Asham, Pittsburgh Penguins
Sure, his “go to sleep” move after KO’ing Jay Beagle was offensive and tasteless and an affront to hockey’s code. But you still used it. Yes, you did. Once we knew Beagle was (relatively) OK, hockey fans had the green light to incorporate “go to sleep” motion into their day-to-day activities. It became the ultimate celebration move. Pull off a one-sided trade in your fantasy league? Go to sleep. Silenced a Senators fan by tricking them into clicking on the fat gladiator intro video? Go to sleep. Heard Sidney Crosby give his three hundredth update on his concussion status without actually saying anything? Go to sleep. Literally.
The Columbus Blue Jackets
They’re rumored to be considering John Ferguson Jr. as their next general manager. As somebody who writes jokes about hockey for money, this is almost too good to be true. In fact, I don’t even want to think about it. Let’s move on.