NHL Week in Review (January 10-16)

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The sports world and the real world rarely meet as sports are supposed to be an escape from the real world.

More and more though the real world is creeping into the NHL and it is starting to become a real worry for the league.

It is not what so many leagues are dealing with right now as it has less to do about off-ice issues and more about the economy.

The Canadian dollar has been falling in value from the end of 2015 and into the beginning of this year.

For most leagues this means nothing except for those few teams that are in the country and need to now deal with a new exchange rate.

They are now playing from behind when it comes to paying their players the money that the players earn.

Canadian teams earn money in Canadian dollars but have to pay players in American dollars.

Essentially a bad Canadian dollar means that Canadian teams have to earn more in order to pay their players the same amount as their American counterparts.

It is a tough situation to be in for teams especially teams that might be struggling already.

There is no league that is more effected by this change than the NHL though and there is plenty of history to back up the worry that comes with this development.

In the mid-1990s the league was in a different place as TV deals were scarce and the league was trying to make more than a handful of teams survive in the league.

As the NHL was attempting, and beginning, to find a footing the Canadian dollar was taking a dive and that caused plenty of trouble.

Without revenue sharing and with contracts going up at a rapid pace many Canadian teams couldn’t keep up having to pay more money for the same contracts.

It was a major reason to why the Quebec Nordiques moved to Colorado in 1995 and why the Winnipeg Jets moved to Arizona in 1996.

In Alberta it seemed inevitable that Edmonton and Calgary were about to lose their teams but past performances and more recent success gave them just enough to stay there.

Now in 2015 the league is in a much different spot than it was almost 20 years ago with different rules in the league to prevent any of these issues.

Still two teams get right back into focus with a familiar problem and a issue that has ended their teams two decades ago.

The Winnipeg Jets are the league’s newest team and one that has done well for itself in the first five seasons.hockey-sidebar

Still they are a new team and one that has not seen a lot of success which was a big reason for them leaving last time.

They also play in the league’s smallest arena, the MTS Centre, putting them behind most other teams in the amount that they can earn.

Now they have to deal with the exchange issues and the combination of a bad Canadian dollar and poor performance seem awfully familiar to the first go around for the city.

Along the same line the league is in the midst of deciding whether or not they want to expand and one of the two potential places is Quebec City.

There is not a lot going for Quebec City in the fact that the league was likely hoping to add two western teams not another eastern team in an unbalanced league.

Now with the Canadian dollar in decline Quebec City is a bit of a different challenge as the league has to wonder if the team can survive with the new economic landscape.

Once again the real world invades the sports world and the league has some questions that need to be answered.

There is some hope for fans of the Jets and hopeful fans of a Quebec City team though as the league has changed in a major way since the 1990s.

Two of the main one are the salary cap and revenue sharing that have come in only recently to help with this exact problem.

Teams that can’t make enough money get help from the teams that make the most money in order to help them stay afloat and prevent changes from happening regularly.

The salary cap gives everyone a more even playing field, although the cap is in American dollars, and prevents any one team from spending too much.

In the 1990s without these measures both Quebec City and Winnipeg couldn’t keep up with rising prices of players and were forced to move.

Now the Jets are in a better place and have a better opportunity to survive while Quebec City is a viable option thanks to these new rules.

Still there is some concern as NHL officials now turn into economists watching closely to see what develops and what it means for the only league with much of the biggest teams in Canada.

Overtime
(Other News this week in hockey)

John Scott Drama
It was a joke that became serious as John Scott was named an All-Star captain after the fan vote but his spot on the team is coming under fire now after being traded out of the division he was supposed to captain and being placed in the AHL leaving his spot in doubt

Ovi in 500 Club
Sidney Crosby has long been considered the best player in the NHL but in an off year his biggest rival Alexander Ovechkin is making a case for being at least the best goal scorer in the league scoring his 500th goal this week becoming the fifth fastest to the mark

Bennett Breaks Through
In 18 games before this week Calgary rookie Sam Bennett was not living up to expectations only earning one point but this week he broke through in a big way scoring his first goal in 18 games and then becoming the youngest player in NHL history with four goals in a game

standings-w15.fw

Key Scores:
Washington Capitals 7 – 1 Ottawa Senators
– The Senators have had their time at the top and they were looking to recapture that magic but the Capitals are simply playing a different level of hockey right now as they put up 7 goals which included Alexander Ovechkin’s 500th goal

Los Angeles Kings 4 – 2 Detroit Red Wings
– The Red Wings came into the game pursuing first place and continuing to work to extend their playoff streak and they tested themselves against the best team in the west which proved to be a failed test as the Kings won again as the runaway favourites in their division

New York Islanders 3 – 1 New York Rangers
– The battle of New York is much better than it has been in the past with both teams jockeying for position near the top of the Metropolitan division with the Islanders coming out on top and taking over second place

Winnipeg Jets 1 – 0 Minnesota Wild
– It is a rivalry that hasn’t taken complete hold of the league yet as the Jets have not been up to the challenge of the Wild through their first five seasons but they did show signs of life in this one getting by the Wild with one goal on the night

Next Week:
New York Rangers vs. Washington Capitals (Sunday January 17th; 5:00 pm ET)
– The Caps are quickly entering the realm of Stanley Cup favourites as everyone waits for their hot streak to end without any end in sight but the Rangers will try to end it as they hope to reduce the lead in the division held by Washington

Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens (Tuesday January 19th; 7:30 pm ET)
– It will be the first time both teams have faced off since the Winter Classic provided an embarrassing showing for the Bruins in front of a home crowd as they look to get some revenge against their rivals, a struggling Canadiens team

St. Louis Blues vs. Detroit Red Wings (Wednesday January 20th; 8:00 pm ET)
– The Blues and the Red Wings never got along when they both competed in the western conference and now they faced off with both teams sitting near the top of their respective division and trying to get an important two points against a good team

Montreal Canadiens vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (Saturday January 23rd; 7:00 pm ET)
– The Leafs are a better team this year even if their record doesn’t show it and now they look to show it and take advantage of their long-time rivals in the Canadiens who are continuing to struggle without Carey Price between the pipes

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