Who I’m Cheering For In The NHL Playoffs

I can safely say that this is the most interested I’ve been in the NHL playoffs since the Thrashers left in 2011. I didn’t watch many games in the regular season, but something about the conference realignment and simplified playoff bracket has me excited.

Here’s who I’m cheering for in each series (not necessarily who I expect to win)  and why.

Colorado vs Minnesota

The Avalanche. They’re a great story and Roy should be coach of the year. He won the Stanley Cup as a rookie player, won the Memorial Cup as a rookie coach, and could win another title as a rookie head coach. They’re an exciting team and I’d love to see them go deep. I grew up despising Roy but he’s one of the most interesting stories in the NHL right now, and I’m all about good stories.

St. Louis vs Chicago

I’ll take the Blackhawks because I have more connections to them. I’m still a Marian Hossa  fan (he should have won the Selke at least once by now) and former Thrashers PR guy Rob Tillotson is with the Blackhawks,  working with former Wolves PR guy Adam Rogowin.

Anaheim vs Dallas

As much as I’d like to see Kari Lehtonen go on a run (or go for a run, which he should have tried once in a while in Atlanta), I like everything about the Ducks except their coach. Plus I’ve known their web guy (Adam Brady) for years. Throw in the Selanne factor and they’re easy to pull for.

San Jose vs Los Angeles

I don’t like either team but I dislike the Kings more. I’ll take the Sharks in the first round and then happily root against them in the second. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- Joe Thornton is never going to win a Stanley Cup.

Boston vs Detroit

I grew up a Bruins fan and Patrice Bergeron is my favorite player. That being said, I really like what the Red Wings have been able to do this year with some of their young guys like Tatar and Nyquist. I’m pulling for the Bruins but wouldn’t mind seeing the Red Wings make some noise.

Tampa Bay vs Montreal

As a Bruins fan I can’t cheer for the Habs. Go Lightning. There aren’t a lot of Bens I feel like I can support in the NHL so Bishop is my guy (even if he won’t be in goal to start the series). I want to see Palat do well too. He’d be my runner-up for the Calder behind McKinnon.

Pittsburgh vs Columbus

This is an easy one. My cousin has been working for the Blue Jackets since 2007 (he’s now their amateur video scout, which means he gets paid to watch hockey all day, every day) and like me he has never experienced a playoff win (game or series). On top of that Dan Kamal is doing TV work in Columbus for Fox, and a former graphic designer for the Thrashers works for Columbus now. If I have a favorite team in the NHL now it might be Columbus. Dubinsky, Bobrovsky, Johansen- the team has heart and talent. I’d love to see them knock off the Penguins and make the Jets/Thrashers the only team left in the NHL without a series win in their franchise history.

New York vs Philadelphia

The Eastern Conference version of San Jose versus LA. I don’t like either team (how is Glen Sather still around?) but I dislike the Rangers less by virtue of them having PEI’s Brad Richards.

Words of Wisdom from My Son

“Sometimes people make mistakes but they should still love each other.”

“Daddy, always look at my eyes when you tell me you love me.”

Not bad for a three-and-a-half year-old.

He followed up with:

“What are you doing Daddy?”
“I’m telling people on the internet what you said.”
“Nobody wants to hear that Dad.”

I’m hoping he’s wrong on that last one, because the kid has a lot of wisdom to share.

Everywhere I Go, Teams Die

I’ve lived in a bunch of places over the years and just about every place I’ve lived has had at least one pro team, whether it was minor league or major, an hour or less away.

Looking back, an alarming numbe of those teams are gone. Each of the following teams existed when I lived in the city and folded or moved within a few years of me living there.

– Moncton Golden Flames (AHL, folded)
– Halifax Citadels (AHL, moved to Cornwall, Ontario)
– PEI Senators (AHL, moved to Binghamton, NY)
– Ottawa Lynx (AAA baseball, moved to Pennsylvania)
– Ottawa Renegades (CFL, folded/suspended)
– Atlanta Thrashers (NHL, moved to Winnipeg)

If I ever have a bunch of money to spend on obscure hats and jerseys I’d love to have some old gear from those teams. In the interest of full disclosure, I never actually went to a Golden Hawks or Citadels game and only went to one baby Sens game on PEI, so I may have played a part in killing those teams.

On a side note, PEI, Moncton, and Halifax all have QMJHL teams now and the CFL is headed back to Ottawa, so it’s not all doom and gloom.

Unfortunately I don’t see hockey at any level above the ECHL coming to Atlanta again any time soon.

What An NHL Hall of Famer Taught Me About Life

In 2008 the NHL Entry Draft was held in Ottawa and I was there with the Thrashers. After an evening out with a friend I got back to the hotel in Gatineau and, spotted assistant coach Brad McCrimmon in the lobby bar. It was my first time traveling with the team to a draft an I wanted to make a positive impression so I stopped to say hi.

He was chatting with a tall gentleman at the bar who had the look of a former player, but not one I recognized. As I approached the man sized me up and said, and I’m paraphrasing here because it’s been a while, but I swear he was this blunt:

“Who are you and what do you do?” he asked with a distinct French accent.

Stunned I mumbled something along the lines of “I’m Ben and I manage the Thrashers website.”

In my head I thought about asking him the same thing but given that A) I didn’t want to insult him by not recognizing him when the room was clearly filled with NHL team staff and B) he was bigger than me, I wisely kept my mouth shut.

“Well are you any god at it?” he asked.

Surprised again by his bluntness I managed a feeble “I guess so.”

“You guess so? What kind of answer is that?” he said. “Are you any good at it or not?”

“Yes, I’m good at it,” I replied.

“That’s better. There are only 30 teams in the league which means you’re one of the top 30 people that does what you do. Have some pride and stick up for yourself. Nobody else is going to recognize how good you are at what you do unless you tell them.”

I thanked him for his advice, chatted with Brad for a minute (something I regrettably didn’t do nearly enough) and went to my room.

The next morning I got on the shuttle bus to go Scotiabank Place for the draft and the man got on wearing a Colorado Avalanche badge. That was when I realized who he was- Hall of Famer and four-time 50 goal scorer, Michel Goulet.

It was also when I realized it was a really good idea not to have asked him who he was, or if he was good at what he did.

To this day his advice is some of the best I’ve ever been given. If you think you’re good at what you do don’t be afraid to say so. If you’re waiting for someone else to notice and reward you with a raise or job offer, you’re probably going to be waiting a very long time.

Putting Down Roots?

I’ve had 19 different mailing addresses in my life in four provinces and two states.

Six years ago this week my wife and I moved into our house in the suburbs of Atlanta which officially makes this the longest I’ve lived at one address in my life. Either I’m putting down roots here or it’s time to move again. the former sounds better than the latter.

Parva Sub Ingenti

Words to live by- “Parva sub ingenti”. It’s the Latin motto of my home province of Prince Edward Island and I think it has shaped the way I view the world. It’s typically translated as “the small under the protection of the great” which at various times has referred to the Island being protected by either Britain or Canada.

To me it means:

– That those who can’t protect themselves should be protected by those who have the ability to offer help.
– That there are things worth protecting even if they can’t stand on their own. PEI as a place and is island way of life wouldn’t be able to survive without the help of the Canadian government, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth cherishing and protecting.

In a broader, more generic sense, “Parva sub ingenti” is why I believe the government is obligated to take care of the least of its citizens, whether that’s through government-supported health care or other social safety nets.

A hand up is very different than a handout, and the great are obligated to offer a hand up to the small because they have innate, intrinsic value.

A Plea to the Hockey Community

Once up on a time the Thrashers used “Believe in Blueland” as a marketing slogan. From the outside looking in it didn’t make a whole lot of sense but for fans Blueland became synonymous with Philips arena and the hockey community that came together there. The Thrashers are gone, but that community lives on, so I still believe in Blueland, and now a member of Blueland needs help.

Anyone who was a regular at Thrashers games or practices should know Tammy Adcock to see her, even if they’ve never met her. More often than not she was wearing moose antlers in honor of Johan Hedberg, her favorite player.

Sadly, Tammy, who suffers from a debilitating nerve disorder, lost her husband Brandy to a tragic stroke just over a week ago. To make matters worse the night after he passed away their home burned to the ground, destroying almost all of their possessions and keepsakes, including much of their irreplaceable Thrashers memorabilia. Tammy and Brandy were both loyal season ticket holders and proud members of the Nasty Nest.

Now Tammy is facing life without her husband, a mountain of medical bills, and she has no home to call her own.

I believe in Blueland and I believe in the greater hockey community. A donations page has been set up to help Tammy out and if you could find it in your heart to make a donation I can guarantee it will be greatly appreciated.