Discover more from Hockey Wanderlüst
Hockey Wanderlüst - March 14
It's a great day for hockey ... from Magnitogorsk to Minnetonka
The Return of Panarin
Who’s Winning the Laine - Dubois Trade?
Brynäs - Look, No Ads!
Ken Kicks Covid
Red Hot North Americans in Europe
Top-10 German League (DEL) Highlights (Beauties!)
Czechs Start Their Playoffs
Name the Logo Answer
This Week’s Quiz
The Return of Panarin
Saturday’s Rangers vs. Bruins afternoon game in Boston featured a real matinee idol: The return of Artemi Panarin to New York’s line-up. The now-29-year-old kid from Korkino tallied a shot and an assist in 18:45 of ice time in his team’s 4-0 win. The Blueshirts snapped a three-game losing streak; they’re 4-and-7 this season when Panarin’s been out of the line-up.
"It was definitely a huge boost getting him back," Mika Zibanejad said about Panarin. "Not only for the game but for the locker room."
The star winger took a leave of absence for personal reasons back on February 22nd after one of his former KHL coaches accused him of assaulting a woman in Latvia back in 2011. Panarin and the Rangers immediately declared the accusation illegitimate and political.
Panarin has been an outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s policies, and a vocal supporter of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who recently survived a poisoning and has since been jailed. The former coach, Andrei Nazarov, is a supporter of Putin, and has previously stated his displeasure with Panarin’s political positions.
Aside from clearing his name, security seems to have been the other main motivation for Panarin’s leave of absence, for himself, and for his family members back in Russia.
Despite a “slow start” Panarin had tallied 18 points in 14 games before departing the line-up three weeks ago. He led the Blueshirts in scoring last season with 95 points in the first year of a seven-year contract worth $11.6-million per season.
The Rangers remain seven points back of a playoff spot in their division, very near the season’s midway point.
Who’s Winning the Laine - Dubois Trade?
Yesterday marked seven weeks since Pierre-Luc Dubois and a 3rd-round 2022 draft pick were sent from Columbus to Winnipeg in exchange for Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic. Set the pick and Roslovic aside for a moment and let’s compare the two stars of the deal. There is sooooo much more to this than statistics, but we’ll start there anyway, through yesterday’s games. (update Sunday am)
Laine in Columbus - 19 GP, 7G, 5A, 12PTS, 11 PIM, Minus-10, 4 PPGoals
Dubois in Winnipeg - 12 GP, 4G, 3A, 7 PTS, 8 PIM, Minus-2, 1 PPPoint
The deal was consummated on January 23rd. Laine’s first game as a Blue Jacket wasn’t until February 2nd because of an upper-body injury; Dubois didn’t play his first Jets’ game until February 9th because of Canadian Covid protocol. He then played two games, suffered an undisclosed injury, missed four, came back to play four games on the wing, and then was moved to his natural centre position.
Elite snipers on the wing are valuable, but a big centre, any elite centre for that matter, is considered more valuable. Advantage Dubois, who with Mark Scheifele, can pack a pretty powerful one-two punch up the middle.
But what this trade is ultimately about is work ethic and attitude. First of all, they have something in common, or as a source in Winnipeg describes, “the Jets traded out some defensive deficiencies and traded in one.” All of the aforementioned players in this deal can be aloof with their defensive responsibilities. In certain situations that’s putting it kindly.
The two stars also have something else in common: they both wanted out. Dubois apparently away from head coach John Tortorella’s environment in Columbus and Laine away from the overall scene in Winnipeg, where its common knowledge he didn’t get along with Scheifele. And there lies the key to the whole package; some have described Laine as “pouty”, a “prima donna”, or as “entitled”. To stereotype, certain Americans and then Canadians are usually the ones touting an excessive sense of entitlement, not so much Europeans. Apparently that’s changing.
It’s ironic Laine gets traded to play for Torts, who may be the NHL coach least likely to put up with any of it. Laine has already been benched more than once in Columbus, including this past Thursday night for part of the third period and overtime.
“I thought I was playing pretty good, but, I guess, I thought wrong,” Laine told reporters postgame.
Both got their change of scenery; how they deal with it will decide the fate of this trade. And ultimately it comes down to Laine in Columbus. Will he adjust, can he handle the discipline, and will he limit his revelations to reporters back in his native Finland. Allegedly, loose lips were an issue for teammates in the ‘Peg.
Roslovic, very happy to move from Winnipeg to his hometown (and by the way, they weren’t weeping when he left), has tallied 15 points in 21 games played. But with work to do on his overall game, and with the Blue Jackets’ playoff hopes starting to slip-slide away, it’s impossible to give them the advantage in the deal. Laine is a restricted free agent this summer and the Dubois contract is due up after another season. Especially considering a certain type of “addition by subtraction”, the winner of this deal for now: the Jets.
Brynäs - Look, No Ads!
Seven years ago, SHL team Brynäs was like all the rest of the teams in Sweden that built their sponsorship strategy on jersey ad’s, even though they - like all of them – could see the ad’s were giving them diminishing returns. The jerseys were simply full, and each new corporate logo diminished the value of the existing ones, pressing down the price of jersey space.
It was around that time the club decided to introduce new programs and change their philosophies.
They created a new core business, alongside elite hockey and talent development, says Johan Cahling, Brynäs VP of sustainability and branding. One that is based on social sustainability and that helps kids get a good start in life, focusing on life away from the rink.
“A Good Start” works to decrease youth unemployment in the Gavle region, encourages more children to be physically active, helps them feel safe, assists children in school, and educates volunteer leaders. Every year, around 20,000 kids come into contact with the program.
The new strategy has not only helped kids, it has made Brynäs’s revenues go up because their corporate partners want to be good citizens.
“These days, to be relevant, all companies have to think of their social responsibility,” says Cahling.
“A Good Start” is a true partnership between the different stakeholders. The main partners are part of the steering group for “A Good Start”, getting a say on strategical decisions. Brynäs just happens to be in the middle of it all.
Tidying up the sweaters became a metaphor for cleaning up the business.
Besides a number of official corporate sponsors, another important partner is Unicef. Ten percent of the revenues of their leaner-and-cleaner replica jersey sales go to the UN children’s organization, and the only ads on the SHL team’s jersey are the Unicef and “Good Start” logos. Both the men’s and women’s teams now have identical uniforms. That too is a thought-out signal for equal rights.
“I believe our new ways of activating our partners and establishing a partnership between society and the working environment shows how a sports club can be a strong force in society. Our ambition is to inspire other strong sports organizations and businesses to increase their social responsibility,” says Cahling.
Brynäs’s Swiss forward Lara Stalder set a new Swedish women’s league (SDHL) points record, scoring 31 goals and adding 51 assists for 82 points in 36 games.
Ken Kicks Covid
Where were you a year ago when the NHL announced suspension of play due to the rising concerns around the Covid pandemic? I was at the Pepsi Center in Denver watching the Avalanche battle the Rangers. It was a tight affair, the two teams buzzing with playoff optimism, with the Av’s prevailing in overtime.
A longtime NHL friend and I were hosting some executives from TPS Hockey (Finland) who had traveled over the previous evening. We drank beers, took in the game and talked hockey. But as the match progressed, news spread about the NBA’s Utah Jazz players testing positive and basketball suspending play. As information on the growing Covid case numbers and a looming European travel ban reached us, our focus changed quickly. The Finns spent the rest of the night booking flights for an immediate return home and I did the same to get back to my family in New York.
“I always came back to the same optimistic conclusion … with the world getting smaller and more interconnected, the opportunities on all fronts will continue to abound.”
The NHL and the rest of the hockey world would shutter in the hours that followed as a growing number of national lockdowns were instituted. This became “the most challenging year”. The hockey business, from peewees to pros, would lose billions. The Stanley Cup would be played in a “bubble” in September. I, as a hockey dad, would not be allowed in the stands to watch my eldest son’s final Under-18 season.
Meanwhile, everywhere, we’ve seen leagues postpone games, add plexiglass, take out plexiglass, take out fans, add fans, travel to games on two buses instead of one, not travel at all, and play in more bubbles.
Despite spending many pandemic nights reflecting, sometimes worried and contemplating the future, I always came back to the same optimistic conclusion. I’ve met so many creators and innovators all over the globe in recent years, and with the world getting smaller and more interconnected, the opportunities on all fronts will continue to abound.
While unplanned, it is appropriate that we launched Hockey Wanderlüst this month. It signifies recovery and innovation; our way back. We look forward to celebrating the past, present and future of the game on our digital pages, on social media and on other media platforms. Our global perspective is tucked conveniently and neatly into your constant stream of content. We’ll explore the hockey action itself, cultural perspectives, the business and technology of the game, and other evolving trends in North America and Europe.
I am so happy to join Risto and Simmer to deliver Hockey Wanderlüst. I have known these guys since we stumbled into each other back in the mid-90s, following pucks around the globe and chasing our dreams of a professional life in the game we love. I hope you enjoy our point of view, and find it useful in your own hockey journey.
1. Red Hot North Americans in Europe
Through March 13.
Carter Camper - Rocky River, Ohio, played 3 games for Boston in 2011-12 after playing college hockey at Miami of Ohio.
Darren Dietz - Medicine Hat, Alberta, 2011 5th-round pick of Montreal plays for Astana Barys
Anthony Camara - Toronto native, 2011 3rd-round pick of Boston, plays for Pardubice
Josh Kestner - Huntsville, Alabama native, who played college hockey in his hometown, plays for TPS
Daniel Audette - Blainville, Quebec, 2015 5th-round pick of Montreal, plays for Lukko
2. Wicked Cool Highlights - German League
Hannibal Weitzmann - now there’s a hockey name! That alone takes him on any Top 10 list, but this save takes the Kölner Haie goaltender all the way up to #3.
Krefield Pinguine’s Lucas Lessio splits the Wolfsburg defense and lands at #2.
And the #1 highlight is the Schwenninger Wild Wings’ Swedish goaltender Joachim Eriksson’s desperation pad save on 17-year-old Roman Kechter’s shot.
Penny, a large retailer, is the title sponsor of the league.
Each team will play 42 games, the playoffs start on April 20th.
Adler Mannheim leads the South Group (division) and the league with 58 points.
3. Ahoj from the Czech Republic!
The Playoffs are under way. The top four seeds received byes in the first round: Sparta Prague (1), Ocelari Trinec (2), Mlada Boleslav (3), and Liberec (4)
Sparta will take on the winner of this first series listed. Kometa Brno stayed alive with a win Saturday night against Vitkovice Ridera. Game four is being played as we speak.
Trinec gets the winner of the series above. Karlovy Vary barely survived with a win Saturday, but Pardubice appears ready to advance by winning Sunday’s game.
Mlada Boleslav takes on Mountfield HK in round 2. Mountfield swept Verva Litvinov in their best-of-five.
The Liberec White Tigers will battle Olomouc, who swept Skoda Plzen in three.
There was no champion in 2020 due to Covid. Trinec won the title in 2019.
Bloomington, Minnesota native and the Coyotes’ 2006 1st-rounder Peter Mueller led the league in regular season scoring with 64 points in 46 games.
The bottom two clubs in the 14-team circuit get relegated to the Czech 1st League.
4. Name That Logo!
Answer to Thursday’s logo question: Brynäs IF. Sweden.
You may wonder why a team from the town of Gävle is called Brynäs, but the explanation is simple. Brynäs is the name of the Gävle neighbourhood where the club was founded back in 1912, originally with soccer, athletics, swimming, water polo, and bandy on its program.
Hockey joined the Brynäs family in 1939.
The logo was the brainchild of the club’s 18-year-old treasurer Gösta Wikström who happened to see a necklace with a three-leaf clover on a store window one day. He hurried home and drew the first draft of what went on to become the logo.
Brynäs has won the Swedish championship 13 times but presently is desperately trying to avoid relegation.
5. This Week’s Quiz Question:
Incredibly, in the entire history of the NHL, only one team has won the Stanley Cup with its regular number-one and number-two centres both being right-handed. Identify the team. (Hint: one of the centres is Canadian, the other European).
See you on Thursday.
Enjoy the hockey action !