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How to keep a place in the NHL nowadays?



As we have noticed, especially we who are a bit older and were born during the 1960’s and 70’s, the hockey game has changed a lot since back in the days, and for the better, I have to emphasize.

Moreover, I am claiming that the game during the 1980’s and parts of the 1990’s was not particularly good to be honest, even if it was quite entertaining with many goals and some enforcers attracting people to the venues.

However, most of the current players are apparently miles above in skill and speed in comparison to most of the players who were in action during the 80’s and 90’s.

I guess that the change of the game (repeat it once again: for the better) increased the level of challenge to make it more difficult for upcoming prospects from Europe these days than it would have been for Kurri, Tikkanen, Forsberg, and Sundin for example.

At the very least, I have myself noticed that many players whom I thought would be talented enough and able to take a place in an NHL team’s fourth or third line have had to return to Europe and to their domestic leagues relatively quickly or been sent down to the AHL or perhaps even ECHL because they couldn’t keep it up.

Therefore, I have been wondering for quite some time: how does one keep a place in the NHL nowadays? What is and what will be required from current and upcoming players? What is the most common reason why players who’ve been drafted are not able to keep a place in the NHL? Is there a common thing or is the answer more complex than that?’

Probably I would get plenty of different answers and perspectives depending on who I’d ask, but I asked this time two very eminent experts of the game: Mr. Adam Proteau, whom we know from The Hockey News and Hockey Buzz, and Coach Gordie Dwyer who has been a former NHLer in Montréal and Pro-level player among other clubs. Dwyer is currently Coach for Medveṧčak Zagreb.

Mr. Adam Proteau:

“I’d say the most common thing that separates NHL players from AHL players is speed. Today’s game requires speed first and foremost – and if you can add brilliant high-end hand-eye coordination to that speed, you can be a top-six forward or a top-four defenceman.

Without skating speed, even players who have that hand-eye skill tend to languish in the minors. I honestly wonder sometimes if Brett Hull could’ve played in today’s game. Nobody would ever question his scoring prowess, but in a game that’s become a track meet, would he be able to (a) backcheck; (b) be in the right scoring positions; and (c) beat defenders to pucks? I’m not so sure.

That speed factor may change if the NHL decides to put the red line back in and slow down the product, but as it stands right now, I think skating is the key. There’s a reason why many teams now employ retired figure skating coaches on their staff, and a player like Connor McDavid is almost singlehandedly going to increase the speed of the sport even more”

>>>And, here below comes a bit of a different answer and perspective from Coach Dwyer in comparison to Mr. Proteau.  However, it gives some more light as well:

Coach Dwyer:

There are many reasons why and most of them circumstantial but here are a few points to consider…

There are roughly only 650 jobs in the NHL with the majority of players on one-way contracts. A one-way contract certainly helps secure your security in the NHL. Before that, each NHL team has I believe has 50 contracts available, with most teams hovering in the high 40s.

The draft isn’t an exact science. It’s still hard to project a player in the future and his development. Teams have added extra resources to assist player development as it is critical to a franchise’s success.

In the salary cap era, teams need cheaper entry level talent as part of the equation thus possibly opening the door to younger players for auditions with the big club.

Draft picks and salary cap room are top currencies in the NHL today.”

As I said, two different answers but both enlightening the questions I have had for some time.

Well, I am myself very glad that the game and the players have evolved for the better, as it is more entertaining to see great moves, passes, and shots, also saves as well, rather than have to break the action because of two not particularly hockey skilled enforcers interrupting the game for several minutes.

Another thing that I tend to agree with totally: Mr. Proteau also mentioned that most of the players back in the days would probably have been playing somewhere between AHL and the ECHL.

Only a few like Gretzky, Lemieux, Forsberg, Sundin, Kurri, Jagr (who is still active unbelievably enough) etc. and the famous Soviet formation with Krutov, Larionov, Fetisov, Makarov and Kasatonov, of course, would have been able to keep it up if they’d played today from the start.

This is mostly because by their skill they had already then brought the hockey 15-20 years ahead of their own time. Today we have Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine for example.

And, we always need those kinds of players, who are above the others, because they set the standards for the upcoming players, as they are in the forefront of the evolution.

One of the big questions for younger prospects of today in Europe and North America:

What are they prepared to do in return for being able to take a spot in the NHL?

The best preparation for tomorrow is to do today’s work superbly well.

-William Osler.

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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.


Flyers Remove Statue of Kate Smith



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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The New World of Sports Betting in the United States



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

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



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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