Q: At what point do both sides realize they are really messing up the game? Both sides are trying to win this PR battle, but we are so **** (Dave edit, sorry) sick of this. We just want hockey.
A: I honestly thought that neither side would be stupid enough to cancel the Winter Classic. That is their big money maker, and without it their revenues go in the toilet. However, that is now on the chopping block, with rumors saying it will be gone as early as Monday. When that goes, there is nothing preventing the owners from holding out for the entire year. As for the players, they are united behind Donald Fehr, so they will do what he recommends. Considering he was the union rep behind five MLB work stoppages, I’m pretty sure he won’t “crack” either.
Q: What alternatives do I have? I obviously can’t watch the Rangers and college hockey is barely televised. MSG just started showing some KHL games, so I guess that’s a plus.
A: Well those KHL games will likely be a bit more popular as the lockout extends into its third month. I’d expect MSG to pick up some more games, especially those that have Ryan McDonagh involved. You can get streams of the Connecticut Whale games online from various places. Those are likely your best bet, as you can watch Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller, and Kyle Jean. The Whale will have the players most ready for the NHL. I don’t know of any streams for the SEL (Oscar Lindberg, Jesper Fast). There are streams for the OHL (Peter Ceresnak), QMJHL (Sam Noreau), and WHL (Michael St. Croix, Shane McColgan) floating around, but I don’t know where.
Q: How long until Dylan McIlrath returns from his injury?
A: As far as I know, he should be back before the new year. His knee injury is progressing, and the good news is that there doesn’t appear to be any lasting damage. I’m excited to see him work under Jeff Beukeboom. They both play/played similar styles, so the kid can learn a lot from someone who made a living out of protecting Brian Leetch.
Q: Who do I blame for this lockout? What can I do with my spare time now that I can’t go to games?
A: You can blame everyone for this lockout. Blame Gary Bettman, Donald Fehr, Steven Fehr, Bill Daly, Jeremy Jacobs, the owners, the players. Blame everyone. No one party is at fault here, but it appears that the owners are the more divided group of the two. I’d also like to blame Allan Walsh, but that’s mostly because his tweets are getting relatively annoying now. As for what to do with your spare time, I can’t answer that. Spend time with your family or something.
Q: When/If this insanity ends, where do you think the Rangers will finish? Was last year a fluke?
A: Last year was not a fluke. The Rangers are definitely trending up, and I don’t mean that in any biased manner. They may have overachieved, but they are certainly the most balanced team in the East. They have elite goaltending to go with one of the best defensive cores in the league (not to mention the youngest). With the addition of Rick Nash, for what amounts to two bottom-six players on the Rangers, the Rangers should finally have that balanced scoring that they were lacking. Their style of play (aggressive forechecking 2-1-2 style) is better suited when they have players that can finish. I think the Penguins, Flyers, and Bruins are all capable of beating the Rangers in a seven game series though.