22nd Dec: Sunday Overtime – Three on Three

Welcome to our weekly post, in which we look at some of the stories that have stayed with us this week. This is a day late, because we’re super busy and also Lindsey absolutely dropped the ball on this one. This has been a week of departures.
(featured image from nhl.com)

1. Traded

Taylor Hall was traded to the Arizona Coyotes on Monday. The New Jersey Devils retained half of his $6m salary, and sent Hall to Arizona, along with Blake Speers, in exchange for conditional picks (2020 first round, 2021 third round) and prospects, Nate Schnarr, Nick Merkley and Kevin Bahl.

And so the saga concludes. It wasn’t as protracted as some trade rumours and signing palavers can be, and it wasn’t as dramatic as the last trade involving Taylor Hall.

Lest we forget:

I never thought it would be a question about who won the trade. In reality, giving up a previous first overall pick seldom seems like a good move, unless a team is actively tanking which, I guess, the New Jersey Devils are doing now. It seems a shame that a team that signed Wayne Simmonds, traded for PK Subban and boasts Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes in their lineup has struggled so much. Of course, this is also a team that simply doesn’t have the goaltending to back them up; Cory Schneider is now in the AHL and Mackenzie Blackwood, despite having a name straight out of a Regency romance is an excellent goalie but can’t do it all on his own.

The lesson, of course, is that goaltending matters, or else you will be saying goodbye to your coach, at best, and a former league MVP, at worst.

2. Is this an Irish Goodbye?

On December 21, Darren Dreger tweeted that Lias Andersson had formally requested a trade from the Rangers.

Since then, he’s been suspended by the Rangers’ farm team, the Hartford Wolf Pack, and, as you can imagine, this request has been taken with good grace by the media and wider hockey audience. (Yeah, no.)

Lias Andersson, of course, is the young Swedish player who, when Sweden came second at World Juniors last year, flung his silver medal away.

First of all, it’s incredibly important to remember that this 2017 seventh overall pick is young. And it’s also important to remember that he cares. He’s a kid who wants to win and it certainly appeared he wasn’t getting much of an opportunity as part of the Rangers organisation. For some high-end players, fourth line opportunities and fourth line minutes, even at NHL level, are not going to make them better players.

We’ve probably all seen this with various players. I like to call it the confidence cycle. A coach loses confidence in a player and plays him less, and then the player loses confidence in himself, and performs poorly, and it’s a cycle of ever-diminishing returns. Often, a ‘change of scenery’ helps. It doesn’t have to be as extreme as Jesse Puljujärvi’s departure to Finland from Edmonton, although it certainly seems like Puljuvärvi is doing extremely well at home. A good, recent example is the trade of Andre Burakovsky to Colorado, from Washington. He was not going to get a look in within the top six with the Capitals, but he’s making the very most of his extended ice time and power play opportunities with the Avalanche, and it’s fantastic to see. (Related: check out Peter Hassett’s recent post about Burakovsky’s season over at Russian Machine Never Breaks.)

It’s certainly not the end for Andersson in the NHL. While it’s understandable that the Rangers are a bit miffed at how he has likely tanked any trade value, this seems to have been an act of desperation for a young man, eager to get more of a chance to make it.

We absolutely wish him the best in his next home (and hopefully, it’s his forever home).

3. Rest in Peace

It is with great sadness that we heard about the passing of Alex Luey. For those of you who don’t know, Alex was a Washington Capitals superfan, and friend of his namesake, Alex Ovechkin.

Diagnosed with osteosarcoma in 2016, Alex, an Ontario native and keen young hockey player underwent treatment that included partial amputation. Following remission in 2017, Alex remained cancer-free until late 2018. A regular sight at Caps-Leafs games, both in DC and in Toronto, Alex Luey inspired Alex Ovechkin to score goals at a fantastic rate whenever he attended games.

Christine Simpson, hockey report with Sportsnet and Hockey Night in Canada, wrote a lovely tribute on Instagram.

Our hearts go out to the Luey family at this time.

In Conclusion

There’s no shoot-out winner this week. Coming, as we are, into the festive season, it is worth remembering that there are things more important than hockey, just as it is worth remembering that hockey can be so inspirational. We’ve seen that, in Alex Luey’s life, and we see it regularly as our favourite hockey players visit children’s hospitals at this time of year, to spread a little cheer.

Not everyone celebrates Christmas, of course; we all have our own beliefs. If you do celebrate at this time of year, though, please remember that there are people who have suffered loss and for whom this time of year will always be difficult. Whether it’s the first Christmas without a loved one, or yet another Christmas without them, joy can be difficult to come by.

Look after yourselves, friends, and look after your loved ones.

Here’s to a peaceful festive season, and a Happy New Year. May your save percentage be high, and your expected goals higher.

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