There’s always hockey even without the NHL

Pond and pickup hockey is always a viable option whether or not the NHL plays their games. (Gilbert Bochenek/Wikimedia Commons)

By: Tim Kolupanowich

@TimKolupan_

Jeff Klein of the New York Times disproves the common theory that no NHL means no hockey. He talked to a group of pickup players skating just a mile from where the New York Rangers should be practicing in Elmsford, NY who proved the game still exists without the world’s top league.

Those who love the game enough will find a way to keep it in their lives and pickup games are a perfect, and of course much cheaper, alternative. From Klein:

The lunchtime game at Elmsford drew 18 players Thursday, all adult men paying $15 for 90 minutes of ice time and playing at a fairly decent level — no body checking, of course, and nobody keeping score. The Rangers’ practice rink is less than a mile away in Greenburgh, but this is a different kind of hockey, played by firemen, graphic designers, paramedics and others who work odd hours or sneak away from offices for long lunch breaks — all united by a love of the game.

“It’s depressing that there’s no N.H.L. — I was really looking forward to seeing the Rangers this year,” said Cedeno, 31, a commercial airline pilot.

“Yeah, but I’m going to check out the Connecticut Whale, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, West Point — there’s a lot of hockey to see,” said Andrew Schaeffer, 43, the other goalie and, like Cedeno, a commercial pilot.

If one unforeseen consequence of the lockout is more people start playing themselves, it won’t be the worst thing in the world. Of course, as Klein points out, it is imperative there are two goalies. So stop sulking, be nice to your local goalie (try not aiming at their head next game) and get to the rink. There’s still plenty of hockey to be played.

*     *     *

Anaheim Ducks prospect Nicolas Kerdiles, banned from playing in the NCAA for one year for reasons unstated, is remaining patient and will not make a jump to the Western League. Kerdiles, a native of Irvine, CA, really wants to play college hockey and has issued an appeal, but it won’t be heard this week, nor is there any timetable for when the NCAA might act.

There is a 36-game schedule planned and Kerdiles is hoping the suspension will eventually be cut in half so he may not have to go an entire year without playing. There is still the world junior tournament to look forward to for Kerdiles, which takes place this year in Ufa, Russia from December 26 to January 5. Kerdiles has spent the past two seasons with the U.S. National Team Development Program and last year totaled 4-5-9 and a plus-8 in six games during the World Juniors as the U.S. finished seventh.

*     *     *

The NHL’s steadfast stance in their Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations is affecting more than just the players and now fans, who are officially missing games as of tonight. Rich Hammond covered the Los Angeles Kings for the past three seasons for the Los Angeles Daily News has left his position inorder to cover USC football and basketball for the Orange County Register. Speculation is the NHL’s interference with one of his articles prompted him to leave.

He posted a goodbye letter on the Kings’ website and it was thought he just wanted to move on until he admitted otherwise. From Scott Gleeson of USA Today:

But when speaking before a sports business class at USC’s Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism on Wednesday night, Hammond revealed that the NHL’s interference with one of his stories led to his decision to change jobs.

Hammond posted a story on Sept. 17 with Kings player Kevin Westgarth, who at the time was working with the NHL Players Association during collective bargaining agreement talks. Hammond, as a reporter and not a public relations writer, provided opinions about both sides of the negotiations.

“The league wanted the story taken down,” Hammond told the Daily News. “Technically, they were saying that as a team
employee, I had to abide by their rules of not discussing the lockout.”

Hammond expressed his concern in maintaining the integrity of the Kings blog with such restrictions considering he was promised a level of editorial freedom when he became the Kings’ writer.

An NHL spokesman said Hammond did a great job covering the Kings, a role that included proving New Jersey Devils winger Patrik Elias took the puck after Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final and covering GM Dean Lombardi’s $50,000 fine for questioning the league’s integrity.

As unfortunate as this is, Hammond likely won’t be the only person the NHL’s stance on the lockout drives away from the league.

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