There was so much going on in the world of hockey last week; intense playoff races in both conferences, coming off the Heritage Classic in Calgary, oh and the trade deadline. Very exciting times in hockey, there have been over 20 trades before deadline and it seems to be only five teams having fire sales. The Ottawa Senators who have been shipping people off like the Maple Leafs, Avalanche, Blues, and the Thrashers. The only problem is that Toronto, St. Louis, and Atlanta are still in the playoff hunt. Strangely, most of the moves are not happening right on deadline day; this year it has become trade deadline month.
Some of the recent big moves that have happened are Kovalev going back to Pittsburgh to fill the void while Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are sidelined. Brad Boyes has been dealt to Buffalo and Eric Brewer has been moved to Tampa to help tighten up the blue line. The Blues have also sent Erik Johnson to the Avalanche for Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk, Stewart has been tearing it up since his arrival in St. Louis with six goals in five games. Johnson has also been productive since his arrival in Colorado with a goal, two assists, and a plus one in four games. Bryan McCabe has been moved to the Big Apple to help with their battered blue line as they push for the playoffs. Ottawa made a deal with Colorado, getting Craig Anderson for Dan Ellis. Now Ottawa is starting to win since shipping Mike Fisher to Nashville (so he can be closer to Carrie, who wouldn’t want to be?) and acquiring Craig Anderson. Not that they will win a Cup anytime soon, but they seem to be moving in the right direction.
Let’s end this week’s Locker Room with a rumour. I was lucky enough to attend both of this year’s outdoor games, and though I found the Winter Classic more organized, bigger overall, and a greater showcase of talent, though the Heritage Classic was incredibly popular. In fact, it made the most money for a single event in NHL history, not to mention it had the third-highest merchandise revenue, and had the fourth-highest viewership for a regular season game on Versus. So the question is: which teams get the next Heritage Classic?
The Vancouver Canucks are one of the best teams in the league and the Maple Leafs has shown a sudden surge of young talent. The Leafs have had nothing to cheer about since Vancouver put them away in 1994 in five games in the third round of the playoffs and then in 1997 when the Flyers dropped them from the third round in seven. The Canucks have been to the finals two times in their 40-year history and lost both of them; one resulted in a riot. The Maple Leafs haven’t won a Cup since 1967, the last year before the expansion draft; in fact the Leafs has not even been to the finals since then. Toronto is a close second for Canada’s biggest hockey market and Vancouver is an easy third.
Why not put these two franchises into the next Heritage Classic? It could be something big for two Canadian franchises; something to cheer about since they have not had much luck in the playoffs in the last 40. It could be done at B.C. place, but with the high chance of rain, Toronto may be the better choice. Toronto’s BMO field holds 22,100, but with a few minor, temporary changes could easily seat 35,000. On the plus side for holding the event at one of the two bigger venues, they could fit at least 50,000 fans into the stadiums. So there you have it: Vancouver Canucks versus the Toronto Maple Leafs in next year’s Heritage Classic. I have already heard speculation around the locker room that these will be the two Canadian teams in the next Heritage Classic. For more insider info on the NHL and the AHL follow me on twitter@JustinOrly.