NHL Week in Review (December 7-13)

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When tragedy strikes and someone passes away the effect is felt by anyone who was helped by that person. Generally that means family and friends who have lived or worked alongside that person who are effected by the death. When that death reaches into the public space the list of people effected grows beyond the immediate friends and family. When that death is a hockey player in one of the most loyal and dedicated fan bases in the world that list grows to an entire province. When Jean Beliveau passed away two weeks ago the entire Montreal Canadiens community was saddened that they had lost a great player. A player who had been a part of so many memories for a team with plenty of memories to be had. He was one of the greatest players in the NHL and one of the greatest in the long line of great players in Montreal. More than any of his accomplishments on the ice though it was who he was off of the ice that made the biggest impact. He was a true gentleman in a game that requires a certain edge and selfishness to play. Off of the ice Beliveau was considered a true leader who had an air of confidence about him that was never cocky. He was a gentle person who always had time for the fans. When he passed away all of those affected by Beliveau in their lives, whether it was a personal relationship or just watching on TV, were saddened by the news. For many it seems like too much for a hockey player when others that have done much more for the country pass away to little fanfare. That may be true but sports are a passion for so many and they feel connected with those who play the sport. They get an emotional connection to the sport, the team, and even to the players. Some fans no more than most about their players and use these players as the model for how to live. When someone has a connection like that with someone else it is always going to be a sad day when that person passes away. Although it could be debated by many there are few fan bases that have a stronger connection to their team than the fans of the Canadiens. The “Bleu, Blanc, et Rouge” are more than a hockey team in Montreal, they are a religion. So when one of the best of them passes away the entire city mourns alongside his family and friends. That was shown this week when the Canadiens’ fans came out in droves and helped to create the grandest and yet still fitting week for a former player and a great person. It started on Saturday when the Canadiens placed a #4 jersey on a seat at the Bell Centre besides his widow. As the game approached the start the usually very loud Bell Centre fell silent as the team honoured Beliveau. The highlight video played and the projection on the ice was a great way to honour him but it wasn’t until the moment they looked at that empty seat that everything came together. With a spotlight on the seat and Mrs. Beliveau standing up waving to the crowd in thanks the impact that Beliveau had on the city of Montreal was felt. Then the rest of the week showed it that much more with services at the old Forum where an endless stream of fans came to see the great Canadien and his family was there to greet and thank everyone. The funeral was much of the same as the biggest names in politics, hockey, and in Canada came out to say goodbye. It was a display of what hockey can mean to a city and to the fans as the impact of one man brought out the best in people for a week. Hockey is not important in the grand scale of things, it is just a sport that provides a distraction and some entertainment. It can mean so much more though and that is the wonder of sports as, although everyone knows it doesn’t matter, it is the passion that unites a community and something that everyone can relate to as the sports world lost a great person this month but also gained a sense of just how great a community the sports world can be.

 

Overtime
(Extra Thoughts on this week in hockey)

End of the Road for MacLean
The Senators looked like they were on the upswing when Paul MacLean took over and won a Jack Adams Award in the process but in the new NHL it is recent results that matter and they were not good enough as the Sens announced that MacLean had been fired

The Mumps outbreak
The NHL is undergoing a strange outbreak this year as more and more teams are being affected by the Mumps, which has spread throughout the NHL and is beginning to cause some major issues for teams with a lot of people getting sick and missing time

Toews Injured
The last thing the Blackhawks wanted to see as they began their great run through the NHL and back to the top of the Central division was a star falling and they saw that with Jonathan Toews getting thrown into the boards, head-first although how much time he may miss is not known yet

standings_w9

Key Scores:
St. Louis Blues 4 – 2 Florida Panthers
– It wasn’t going to be a marquee matchups this week until the Blues signed Brodeur and created a matchup between two legendary goaltenders, one that Brodeur took as he continues his comeback to be a full-time starter

Toronto Maple Leafs 2 – 1 Detroit Red Wings (SO)
– The Leafs and Red Wings are fighting a close season-long battle and this game continued that fight between the two teams with the Red Wings outshooting the Red Wings 42-19 on the night but Reimer was great in allowing the Leafs to steal two points

Chicago Blackhawks 3 – 2 Boston Bruins
– The Blackhawks got the win over the Bruins but it was not the result that they were concerned about as Jonathan Toews left the game after being hit into the boards, head-first in a dangerous play that could keep captain serious out for a while

Ottawa Senators 3 – 2 Boston Bruins (SO)
– The firing of Paul MacLean might have been exactly what the Sens needed to wake up and as much as the players did not want to see their coach go they have started to pick things up beating the Bruins in a shootout to continue their tunraround

 

Next Week:
Los Angeles Kings vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (Sunday December 14th; 5:00 pm ET)
– The Kings and Leafs do not meet too often but there is plenty of history between these two teams with the Leafs still remembering what Wayne Gretzky did to them in the playoffs in 1992 and always trying to take out the Kings

New Jersey Devils vs. New York Islanders (Monday December 15th; 7:00 pm ET)
– The two often forgotten teams in the area will face off with the Islanders looking like the favourites after a great first half of the season where they are looking like legitimate contenders and try to continue the momentum into the new year

Anaheim Ducks vs. Montreal Canadiens (Thursday December 17th; 7:30 pm ET)
– They have been two of the best teams all year so far but both are headed in opposite ways as the Canadiens are falling after being the best team in the NHL and the Ducks are taking over the Pacific Division

Ottawa Senators vs. Montreal Canadiens (Saturday December 20th; 7:00 pm ET)
– The Senators are trying to move on from firing their Jack Adams winning coach Paul MacLean and they are looking to make up ground against a Canadiens team that is not has powerful as they seemed to be at the beginning of the year

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