NHL Week in Review (November 16-22)

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Becoming a professional athlete is not the easiest path to make a living, although it can be a very rewarding one. Only a fraction of people make it into a professional league compared to the amount of people who play the sport. The ones who make it are the people who can take the natural talents they have and add hard work to become a legitimate professional player. It is not a path that can be taken lightly and many times those who make it are the people who have a great support system around them. That is true in the NHL where the support system can be one of the most important in creating a professional athlete. The stories of those who make it are full of the hockey moms and hockey dads. Those parents who wake up at 5:00 am to drive their sons to hockey practice or the parents who drive all over the province, state, country, or continent just to give their child the best chance at making the NHL or even just earning a scholarship to attend school. This support system extends even beyond the parents as the volunteer coaches, organizers, and referees all have an impact in the lives of these players. These people are the reason that NHL players get to where they are today and are the reason that many players remain in the NHL with a level head. It does not always work that way though as a support system can fall apart when a player gets to the NHL. The money that NHL players make can be the end to a lot of relationships as that level of pay can change everything. All of a sudden friends and relatives come out of the woodwork looking for handouts. Meanwhile family and friends that were always around can begin to look for something extra as well. When they don’t get that handout it becomes a question of how they can do that to a friend because they have more than enough to pass around. It is a harsh reality to face for many of these players and too often they learn the hard way that money changes everything. Jack Johnson did that this week as he filed for bankruptcy this week after his bank balance was at only $50,000 while accruing a debt of over $10 million. Usually that type of story is just a player living above their very large means as they buy things they cannot afford despite their large paychecks. This time it wasn’t that as Johnson’s bankruptcy came from mismanagement of his funds of, by all people, his parents. In 2008 Johnson parted ways with his agent, Pat Brisson, and handed over his finances to his parents. When he signed his first major deal in the NHL with the Los Angeles Kings he signed over power of attorney to his mother. That is when his mother began to take out loans on future earnings for her son. She took almost $15 million in loans with high interest rates that there was almost no way of paying pack. The multiple loans with high interest led to multiple defaults and eventually lawsuits against Johnson for being unable to pay back the loans. With $15 million of debt and only $50,000 to his name Johnson was forced to declare bankruptcy. It is obviously not the be all and end all for Johnson who is set to earn upwards of $4.3 million in both of the next two seasons, which should help to make a dent in his debt. A new contract after those two years will help as well with Johnson seemingly getting better as he approaches 30-years old. More than the money issues though it was the trust that Johnson had in his parents that has been completely destroyed. It was not the smartest idea to give his parents the control, they did not have a financial background after all, but in the end it was his parents that put him in this situation. Now that support system has fallen apart in a sad story but a story that should be followed by players starting out or about to start out their NHL careers. From this point on Johnson is sure to preach that lesson to all of the young players he comes across for the rest of his career as he learned the hard way that money can create a lot of problems.


(Extra Thoughts on this week in hockey)

Legion of Doom reunite
Eric Lindors and John LeClair returned to Philadelphia to be inducted into the Hall of Fame as the members of what was known as the Legion of Doom returned to the place that put them on the map

Dupuis out Again
Alexandre Dupuis was added to the Penguins lineup to provide Sidney Crosby with a little bit extra on his line but he has been hampered by injuries including his latest a blood clot in his lung that has forced him out of the lineup for the second time this year

Voynov in Deep
With a much larger concentration on how players represent the league off of the ice the NHL is watching Slava Voynov carefully after he was officially charged with domestic assault and will not likely be back this year after already missing 14 games on suspension



Key Scores:
Minnesota Wild 4 – 3 Winnipeg Jets (OT)
– One of the youngest rivalries in the NHL has plenty of background as the Wild and Jets are located across the border from each other and they continue to fight it out in the division with the Wild taking the advantage, barely, this time around

Nashville Predators 9 – 2 Toronto Maple Leafs
– The Maple Leafs had a true test against the Preds who showed them that they had a lot more work to do when they went off on the Leafs scoring nine goals and going through two goalies in Toronto

Anaheim Ducks 4 – 3 Vancouver Canucks (SO)
– The Canucks are still trying to find their spot in their new division and they are trying to compete with some of the top teams in the league which they did in this game pushing the Ducks to a shootout and stealing a point



Next Week:
Detroit Red Wings vs. Ottawa Senators (Monday November 24th; 7:30 pm ET)
– The Red Wings continue their Eastern Canada tour as they travel to Ottawa looking to create some separation between themselves and the Sens while trying to stay near the top three in the division

Chicago Blackhawks vs. Colorado Avalanche (Wednesday November 26th; 9:00 pm ET)
– This time last year the Colorado Avalanche surprisingly beat the Blackhawks and started to really get noticed in the league as a contender now they will try to use this game a chance to get on track while the Blackhawks hope to avenge a back record against the Avs last year

New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia Flyers (Friday November 28th; 1:00 pm ET)
– The NHL once again takes on Thanksgiving in the USA as they match two longtime rivals against each other in the Thanksgiving Day Showdown a day after the national holiday as the Flyers and Rangers try to move away from the middle of the pack in the division

Chicago Blackhawks vs. Los Angeles Kings (Saturday November 29th; 10:00 pm ET)
– It is a matchup of the two most dominant teams in the last four years as both have all of the Stanley Cup rings from that stretch and they face-off once again in what could be an early preview of the Western Conference Final

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