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The world junior ends and start another great hockey year

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It’s time, to sum up, the hockey year 2016.

Perhaps I am a bit unusual in this but I am that kind of person who wants always to aim at positive things, even if I do question a lot of things from time to time.

The latter I do when I find it necessary and I do it to be fair to the sport and to all involved, from fans to media.

However, I will skip the negative list and begin by saying that the world junior ends and starts another great hockey year as it has become a great tradition every year.

First of all, before I continue to speak a little more about the WJC, I’d like to share with you the international list of highlights from this year of 2016 I had in mind:

  1. Finland: An incredible year for the lions on the highest levels of the international hockey. First the WJC gold in OT against Russia at home in Helsinki, one of the most thrilling finals I’ve experienced. Then the U18 gold in the USA, although they were superior and there was no question who was going to take the shiniest medal of them all. And, then the senior worlds in Russia, a silver medal after being defeated by Canada. But overall, 2 golds and 1 silver beats a lot of the previous seasons in the Finnish hockey history.
  2. Magnitogorsk, Gagarin-Cup: The powerhouse from the East geographically and in the Eastern Conference of the KHL showed once more their strength but also how they are able to steal the bucket from under of the nose of their opponents. The battle against CSKA Moscow is already a classic final in the KHL’s history we won’t forget in many years.
  3. San José Sharks, almost Stanley Cup Champions: An incredible achievement when we look at it afterward, but I had a feeling somehow during the mid-season that they might be dangerous. Might? They showed that their home venue is “The shark tank” and was an inch from shocking the whole NHL and the rest of the hockey world. But, as we all saw it, Crosby & Co in Pittsburgh were too strong in the end.

The bubbles:

  • Well, this is actually a hard one and I had to think this through carefully. But, I have to say Kunlun Red Star. The first Chinese team at the highest pro-level ever, though with a lot of imports. Nonetheless, this was a big and brave move by the KHL organization in taking a step to China and creating a hockey atmosphere there. The team had a bit of a shaky start and some lack of attendance when they were in Shanghai instead of Beijing for some months during this fall. But, now they are rolling on and have a hand on a spot in the playoffs.
  • Also, the NHL has a new member, Las Vegas, who start their journey next season but it was clear during this season that they’ll join the league. Even if I would rather see a city such as Quebec in the circus again, I think it will be a good thing to have Las Vegas.
  • Canadian teams like Montréal, Ottawa, Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg have a far better position for reaching a place in the coming Playoffs than they had last year. That fact makes my hockey heart happy.

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Now I let the world juniors end this year and embrace the new year of 2017.

The WJCs are back in Canada, in the Meccas of hockey: Montréal and Toronto.Not so much big hype or big talk as last year when several young prospects were in the same tournament.

Yes, precisely, these following names we’ve heard so many times already.Matthews, Laine, Puljujärvi and Aho were on everyone’s lips last year even if Kasperi Kapanen was the player that closed the WJC by an extraordinary goal in OT against Russia.

We can look at the goal from Kapanen over and over again. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TkJYXGXZjP8

Who’s winning?

Well, the WJCs are always an open story.

Of course, Canada is one of the big faves as always, certainly now when they are the host nation and will have a huge crowd behind their backs.

Besides that obvious fact, I can only repeat myself, I keep it open, as it is hard to predict, harder than the senior worlds for many reasons.

I recall that I gave the hosts of the last WJC, Finland a semi-final but nothing more, but they proved me wrong big time and brought the gold instead.

Not that as many players have been in vogue in media as last year, but I can recommend keeping an eye on Kirill Kaprizov from Salavat Yulaev Ufa. He’s been tremendous the autumn part of this season.

Kaprizov has all the possibilities to become a great sensation with his incredible technical skill and he might be the main key for a Russian triumph this tournament. His numbers so far say a lot about his skill: http://www.eliteprospects.com/player.php?player=265645

I wouldn’t be surprised if he became one of the big sensations in the Gagarin playoffs either later on for his Salavat.

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Now it is high time for me to take a Christmas break a couple of weeks, but, by all means, enjoy the most fun hockey tournament we have I think, and I think it is a great tradition that WJC ends and opens up a new tremendous hockey year.

Hereby, I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year with my Christmas and New Year’s wish as a gift to you, my dear reader:

  1. A new champion in the KHL and the NHL
  2. Better terms and agreement between the leagues and associations
  3. Club owners in the KHL and the NHL who really care about the game and its development and not only think about the profit or think shortly and narrowly.

 The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.

-Eleanor Roosevelt

Star Wars Ultimate Fan Gift Box at SteinerSports.com

Arto Palovaara, Sunday Chronicler for Sports Rants Europe. Previously, he contributed for the betting company Betsafe, Svenska fans, Get real hockey and Ice nation UK. He is also an educated archaeologist and life coach who loves literature and history. Not to forget: probably he is the only sportswriter that plays the banjo.

MLB

Flyers Remove Statue of Kate Smith

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The Philadelphia Flyers have joined the New York Yankees in the removal of ties to singer Kate Smith, whose famous rendition of “God Bless America” was played at both Flyers and Yankees games.

Earlier this week, the Yankees decided to suspend the use of Smith’s rendition, which was played during the seventh-inning stretch, while they investigated allegations of racism against the later singer.

According to a report from the New York Daily News, there are conflicting claims about Smith’s 1939 song “That’s Why Darkies Were Born” which
originated in the 1931 Broadway revue “George White’s Scandals” and was considered satire but includes racist language, including the line;
“Someone had to pick the cotton. … That’s why darkies were born.”

The song was recorded by Smith and Paul Robeson, who was black.

The Flyers put out the following statement on Sunday (h/t ESPN):

“The Flyers have enjoyed a long and popular relationship with ‘God Bless America,’ as performed by the late Kate Smith, a woman who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor for her patriotic contributions to our nation.

“But in recent days, we learned that several of the songs Kate Smith performed in the 1930s include lyrics and sentiments that are incompatible with the values of our organization, and evoke painful and unacceptable themes.”

Smith, who was popular during the WWII era, recorded the offensive jingle, “Pickaninny Heaven,” which she directed at “colored children” who should fantasize about an amazing place with “great big watermelons,” among various other treats. 

Smith also endorsed the “Mammy Doll” back in 1939 which was based on a racist caricature of a black woman similar to Aunt Jemima.


“The Yankees have been made aware of a recording that had been previously unknown to us and decided to immediately and carefully review this new information,” a club spokesman said. “The Yankees take social, racial and cultural insensitivities very seriously. And while no final conclusions have been made, we are erring on the side of sensitivity.”

The odds aren’t good that Smith’s songs will return to their prominent places during sporting events such as they were with the Yankees and the Flyers.

There is a lot of cleaning up to do when it comes to racism in sports, and weeding out songs attached to artists with questionable, and controversial, backgrounds such as Smith’s, is important in pushing forward towards the future.

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MLB

The New World of Sports Betting in the United States

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Earlier this year a monumental breakthrough was achieved when the United States Supreme Court ruled against the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, known as PASPA, allowing each state in the nation to decide if it wants to allows legal sports betting or not.

That led the nation, and all of the states, on a new path, with a lot of lucrative opportunities in an industry that has operated underground for decades.

With casinos and eSports thriving, sports betting adds a brand new element to the gambling industry and presents one of the richest outlets for businesses, the government, and the nation.

There will likely be a boost in employment rates, a growth spike in business, and an influx of money that no longer has to be hidden from the eyes of the government.

As of now, a number of states have already started their journey, and another, Utah, has decided not to act on the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of sports betting, opting to maintain their stance on forbidding sports betting, at least for the time being.

As the world of sports, eSports, and gambling embark on this industry shifting journey, let’s take a deeper look at what has been going down so far, and what is in store for the sports betting industry, thanks to an info graphic from NJGames.org.

The info graphic will take a look into the impact that sports betting legalization is expected to make on the nation’s economy.

The info graphic takes into account that the United States’ gambling industry already generates around $28 billion. The legalization of ports betting legalization is expected to increase tat number dramatically.

Additionally, sports betting operations will also result in a higher number of jobs, and the info graphic will provide you with an estimated number of both direct and indirect jobs that will open with the introduction of sports betting.

As the fantasy football season is ready to kick off for many of you, we should start seeing a lot of changes to the sports betting landscape and it will be interesting to see just how companies in fantasy sports navigate through the implementation of these changes.

The future of the sports betting industry seems bright, and there seems to be quite the trickle down effect that will have an immediate benefit to numerous industries.

Whether you’re ready or not, legalized sports betting is on the way, if it hasn’t arrived in your state already, and big things are on the horizon.

 

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NHL

Capitals owner Ted Leonsis Pays for 200 Employees to go to Stanley Cup Final Games

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Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis is celebrating the team’s first trip to the Stanley Cup Final for the 1st time in 20 years in a special way.

According to the Washington Post, Leonsis surprised 200 employees of Monumental Sports & Entertainment with tickets and a chartered flight to Vegas for the first leg of the Stanley Cup Final.

The employees were chosen based off how closely they work with the Capitals, as well as seniority, and they received an email last week from a senior VP that had the subject line: “Let’s go to Vegas.”

The selected employees received tickets to Games 1 & 2.

“It’s truly amazing and out of this world,” Omar Castro, a guest relations manager, said.

“I never expected an owner of the company to do this. We get to share in this with them. … He’s thinking of us as part of a family, as part of the experience. There’s no reason for him to do it. All I can say is a big thanks to Ted and his family for the opportunity, and for truly making this into something memorable for all of us here in the company.”

Not only did Leonsis provide tickets, but he also organized two chartered flights and is putting the employees up at the Excalibur.

 

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