Weiss Hockey: 2-6-19

By Andrew Weiss

This week in hockey: The Patriots won the Super Bowl, life is meaningless, eat at Arby's. Also, hockey stuff.

Quick Hits – What happened in hockey this week

- Good morning, that Super Bowl was terrible to watch, huh? Well, onto hockey I guess.

- No podcast this week thanks to -20 weather in Chicago that combined with wind chill to feel like -52. Doesn't Chicago know I'm from Florida?? Someone turn up the heat in this city!

- Finally into the first week of Weissy's Bolts Breakdown, now 4 episodes deep. If you haven't seen them yet, click this wonderful blue link for the latest edition from the Lightning's 3-2 win over the Rangers.

- Shameless plugs are over, unlike the Flyers' seven game win streak. If you saw that coming, you're a liar.

- Congrats to Tuukka Rask on becoming the all-time leader in wins in Bruins history. Considering how often Boston fans complain about him, it's a well-earned achievement.

- Pierre McGuire might've been just excited for Kendall Coyne Schofield to join him on the NBCSN broadcast this week, but jeez did he sound like an idiot when talking to her. She's a gold medalist, not a child. Good on her for taking the high road in her comments the next day.

- The Islanders-Lightning game this week was the best goaltending duel I've seen in a long long time. It's a pity it had to end in a shootout. I hope to see an ECF with these two sides battling, although my heart couldn't handle it.

- The Lightning have 80 points in 52 games. Like, come on.

- Interesting watching the battle in the Atlantic for the second and third seed. Toronto seemingly has the advantage, but Boston and Montreal are hanging around.

- Columbus has dropped five straight games. I think they trade both Panarin and Bobrovsky. I can see a team like Florida making a run at either in the offseason, but they could decide to push for both now.

- Ottawa and Los Angeles are battling for the bottom spot in the league and boy is it sad to watch. The Senators have nothing to gain by tanking and the Kings are built to win now.

- Los Angeles began selling off pieces in hopes of salvaging a future with a Jake Muzzin trade to Toronto. They did alright, but I'm not big on the package they got outside of what will be a late first round pick. The Maple Leafs got a needed piece.

- In the weird battle for the last wild card spot in the West, Arizona and St. Louis are making moves while Anaheim, Edmonton and Colorado are falling.

- Anaheim got blasted 9-3 by Winnipeg on Saturday but Randy Carlyle remains the head coach. Gosh I would LOVE the job security he has.

- Just a friendly biased reminder that Steven Stamkos leads the NHL in goals since December 1 and sits fifth in the league in points since that spot. He has the highest shooting percentage of anyone with at least 70 shots since then. He's not as washed up as some made him out to be.

Hitting the Links: A collection of tweets, articles, and internet things you should see

- Filip Forsberg with possibly the one-man play of the week. Put him on the PK always and forever.

- Connor McDavid with the actual one-man play of the week. Put this on his tombstone.

- Hurricanes celebrations will never get old, although we gotta talk about them in the rant section today.

- Elias Lindholm being petty about the Hurricanes celebrations will never get old, either.

- This video from the Maple Leafs is the best thing you'll see all week. Military reunions will never get old for me.

- DOG!

- One of the nicest goals you'll see this season.

- Big save from Andrei Vasilevskiy in his shutout this week.

It's Ranting Time: Sponsored by the disgust of football fans outside of New England

Topic: The Carolina Hurricanes like to have elaborate celebrations on the ice after each home win.

On one hand: This could be seen as some minor league, childish, bush league level stuff.

On the other: It isn't, it's awesome, and there are so many reasons why.

LET'S RANT: First, let's start with this tweet from Justin Bourne, a member of the Canadian hockey media.

Obviously it changes nothing. And it’s FUN. I just can’t imagine, personally, being a player with serious designs on a Cup, sitting in a team meeting where a guy suggests we do a duck-duck-goose celebration if we win the hockey match and being like, “YES, we are on track.”
— Justin Bourne (@jtbourne) February 3, 2019

I get why he said it. I do. But that's what kills me.

Hockey culture has long been all about tradition and culture and teamwork. It's all very serious and grim and it's meant to be that way to create ideals of hockey. That culture is a major part of hockey teams, players, coaches, front offices and fans and the way they all think.

And it sucks.

It's based on a solid foundation. I love how humble hockey players are and how they focus on the work of a team and each other rather than themselves. It's great that hockey culture can foster this in such a violent sport.

But it is killing the growth of the game.

At the end of the day, hockey is a sport, and sports are entertainment and a business. In Canada, for any Canadian, hockey is a lifestyle and is an easy sell more often than not. But in Raleigh, Carolina, getting fans to buy in isn't as simple. This is Tobacco Road, this is Duke basketball country and Jordan's home. Hockey isn't traditional.

But just as hockey isn't traditional in Tampa, it can grow nonetheless. Tampa has seen that. Raleigh could see that too. Part of it is marketing, and part of that marketing is making these games fun for fans. Make these fans want to come back and regret missing out when they don't come.

That's the way to build hockey in North Carolina. And that should be fine.

Hockey as a whole is so dedicated to the culture that it loses sight of the real world. We see the NBA embracing so much personality and social media and open culture, and we wonder why the NHL remains behind the NBA, NFL and MLB. It might never catch up, but it doesn't have to settle, either.

Hockey fans see posts about how the NBA took over Super Bowl week, and it did, and wonder why the NHL can't do that. The culture is why.

Fans go on Twitter screaming about how hard hockey is, how beautiful the game is and how challenging it is, while begging for people to like their sport. If hockey is so fun to watch in person, and it is, why aren't more people glued to the games? The culture is why.

The culture is a beautiful thing. But the attachment to it, and the refusal to break away, is suffocating hockey.

We bash personalities like PK Subban while praising boring quotes and players because it fits in the culture. We don't want change and we don't like it. We're happy with the status quo. We turn up our noses at anyone that doesn't like hockey and say "your loss" while the NBA goes out searching for fans.

NBA social media accounts talk smack to each other. NBA players talk smack to each other. NBA players get in big time trades while NHL GMs struggle to swap fourth liners.

Which one do you think Americans prefer to watch?

I grew up in Tampa. I've seen the growth of hockey, and I've seen the hard times too. Hockey grows best when teams are contenders, yes, but it also grows when fans become attached to teams and players.

Everyone knows LeBron and Brady. Does everyone know Crosby? Or McDavid? Even Ovechkin? We think yes when the answer is no.

Embrace personality. Embrace drama, pettiness, emotion, happiness, celebrations. Embrace the passion.

Embrace the Hurricanes celebrations. Embrace hockey.

Remember, it is always a great day for hockey.

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