Bench Talk 06/23/2017

“It’s like the bottom of the ninth and I’m never gonna win. This life hasn’t turned out, quite the way I want it to be.” — Chad Kroeger

Losing can be tough. Losing while riding the pine is downright insufferable. Reach into the styrofoam cooler, crack a cold one and let’s talk some sports.

In the News

When’s the soonest that the Vegas Golden Knights can make the playoffs?

Thomas Waind (TW): Vegas has already locked up a goalie in Marc-Andre Fleury who can steal games. They took some interesting names in the expansion draft: James Neal, Marc Methot, Shea Theodore, Cody Eakin, David Perron, Nate Schmidt, Erik Haula and Jonathan Marchessault. They also have plenty of cap space to chase free agents like Kovalchuk, Shattenkirk, Oshie, Thornton, Hanzel, Marleau with more European and college free agents to join their Russian free agent signing, Vadim Shipachyov. If Vegas opens up their wallets, they could gun for a low playoff seed this year and simultaneously build for the future with their boatload of draft picks.

Cameron Burgess (CB): I don’t expect it to be this season, but it’s honestly not that far away. Fleury was too good to be sitting on the bench in Pittsburgh and is more than capable of leading Vegas to the playoffs very soon. It’ll be interesting to see what they do now through trades, Free Agency and the Entry Draft. It sounds like Vegas might become a Free Agent destination, and for good reason. Warm weather all year, no taxes, and you’d be a millionaire in Vegas. Sign me up for that. They have options through the trade market, as they now have a lot of extra pieces, especially on defense, that they could trade into more draft picks or some forwards. While they may not be a playoff team this season, it won’t be much longer. I expect that after a season of play and two full offseasons to make deals, the Golden Knights can find themselves in a playoff spot for the 2018-19 season.

Image result for marc andre fleury gif

Brendan Ballantyne (BB): Judging by a few of the moves Golden Knights General Manager, George McPhee, has made (ie. immediately flipping expansion draft selections Schlemko and Van Riemsdyk for future draft picks) it would seem to me that he doesn’t want it to be any time soon. And good on him, the most effective way to become good in sports it seems nowadays is to suck for a while, go young, and hope those young players pan out. Looking at what Vegas has right now, they’re definitely a bottom third team. But at this point, that’s where they want to be.

NHL Award Snubs

CB: I guess the biggest one has to be Karlsson for the Norris Trophy. Not that Karlsson was guaranteed the trophy, but many people were assuming he was going to win. Putting up 71 points as a defenseman is something that you’d think would secure the award for Best Defenseman, but Burns had 76 points, 29 of which were goals. In my opinion, Karlsson is more explosive and uses his skating to create plays that nobody else can make. But, Burns has just as much of an impact on a game, and might be a little bit better defensively and that was enough to put him ahead of Karlsson in voting.


BB: There wasn’t a huge snub for me when it came to this year’s awards. If I had to say something I’d go with Erik Karlsson for the Norris, but Brent Burns had a great year too. For the longest time throughout this season Burns seemed like a runaway winner, so I’m fine with it.

NHL Offseason vs. NBA Offseason

CB: To me it’s pretty even, I just care more about the NHL Offseason. Free Agency is exciting in both, but NBA stars tend to bounce from team to team more than NHL players do. One advantage that the NBA does have is the Summer League, allowing rookies and young players to get their first taste of NBA action and fans to see the future of their favourite teams play in their colours for the first time. NHL offseason might be a bit more boring, but it’s typically because star players get locked into long term contracts and don’t become free agents very often, while the big signings are often 2nd or 3rd line guys. Hockey fans will like the NHL offseason more, and basketball fans will like the NBA offseason more. It all depends on who you ask, but for me the NHL offseason is better mainly because I don’t care about what All Star the Cavs are trying to get this year to beat the Warriors in the Finals next season.

BB: NBA, not even a debate. It seems like every year there are superstar and big name players on the move. Whether it be through trade, or free agency, or the fact that immediate impact from drafted players is more likely…take your pick. This isn’t to say the NHL offseason is dull, it’s still a lot of fun. But the NBA offseason is so ridiculously over the top, it’s amazing. In like a week Jimmy Butler, Brook Lopez, Dwight Howard, D’Angelo Russell, Zach Lavine and the #1 Overall Pick were all traded in some capacity (among other pieces), with Paul George and Kristaps Porzingis also rumoured to be on the move. Free agency HASN’T EVEN BEGUN YET, the NBA offseason is sometimes more entertaining than the regular season, it’s nuts.

TW: The NHL has all of the pieces that could make for an electric offseason. The Vegas Expansion draft, incompetent GMs and plenty of big-named trades. The problem is the showmanship. The NBA offseason is a character-driven soap opera with players constantly moving and constantly tweeting, eccentric front office personalities with seemingly no filter and guys like Stephen A. Smith covering all of the action by screaming into a camera as loud as they can.

The tragedy with the NHL offseason is that free agency is a non-factor making the vanilla-white GMs the “stars” of the offseason with their draft day trades and waiver claims, while the whole thing is covered by similarly-vanilla, just-as-white hockey media. The whole thing is just way too monotone. “Hot off the presses! Vegas trades David Schlemko to Montreal for a 2019 fifth round pick!” I almost fell asleep writing that.



3 Stars

CB: Marc-Andre Fleury

The face of the Vegas Golden Knights franchise might be one of the best teammates in the NHL. Shortly after winning his 3rd Stanley Cup (even though he was stuck on the bench for the last 2), we found out that he had waived his No Movement Clause months ago so that the Penguins could protect Matt Murray in the Expansion Draft. There was never any headlines about him complaining playing time, everything he has done in the last year has been to benefit the team. Not only has he been a great teammate, but he has been a big part of the Pittsburgh community. His last act as a Penguin? Opening a new playground at the Sto-Ken-Rox Boys & Girls Club in Pittsburgh, as well as buying new sports equipment, games, and other supplies to the club. Vegas is lucky to have The Flower as the face of their franchise. Not only for his impact on the ice and in the locker room, but he might be getting a lot more kids in Las Vegas to pick up a hockey stick.


TW: Minnesota Timberwolves

Tom Thibodeau got his man. In Jimmy Butler, the Timberwolves get one of the best two-way wing players in the game. His presence alleviates some the pressure on Andrew Wiggins seeing as he no longer has to (fail to) guard the other team’s best wing with Butler playing alongside him. Butler’s contract also makes him one of the of the biggest bargains in the league. The fact the they only had to give up Zach Lavine’s busted knee (he could still be very good), the disappointing Kris Dunn (less likely to still be good) and Lauri Markkanen (0.0001% he’s the next Dirk Nowitzki, but he’s most likely he’s Channing Frye). If everything breaks right, one of the three might be able to be as valuable as Butler is now. An absolute no-brainer for Minnesota.

BB: OG Anunoby

The Toronto Raptors went ahead and selected Anunoby out of Indiana with their 23rd overall pick in this year’s draft. He looks like an exciting defensive and physical prospect, at 6’8”, 215 pounds with a 7’3” wingspan. He’s being described as a player that’s technically a small forward, but has the ability to switch and guard the perimeter very well and the strength and length to hold his own in the paint.

The link to that full article is here:

A lot of what people seem to think Anunoby is a steal at this spot, and only his mid-season injury this past year is the reason he fell. I’m not complaining, it’s exciting to hear when a guy the Raptors were able to scoop with a later first rounder is talked about so highly. Welcome to the squad OG.


TW: Toronto Blue Jays

Please… Just get to .500… That’s all I ask…

CB: New York Knicks


If anyone has been able to follow along with what’s going on with this team, try to explain it to the rest of the world please. All season long it seemed as though Phil Jackson has been trying to push Carmelo Anthony out of New York, and now he’s turned his attention to their future face of the franchise in Kristaps Porzingis. Rumours surfaced that trade talks for Porzingis were heating up, but that the asking price was too high. It turns out that the price was also taking on the atrocious contract of Joakim Noah. For somebody who used to be considered a basketball mastermind, Phil Jackson seems like the complete opposite in New York right now. The Knicks seem to be stuck between deciding to rebuild or trying to contend for a playoff spot, but whatever they’re doing right now clearly isn’t working.

TW: Their problem is Phil Jackson is an absolute dinosaur that forces his players to play in his outdated “Triangle” system.

BB: Joe Manganiello (Or the NHL Award Show in general)

When you host an award show like the NHL Awards, it’s not going to be easy. So if you’re not funny, just don’t try and be funny. Maybe it’s the show’s writers to blame, but there were a lot of points during this show that were awkward attempts at humour. This award show doesn’t have much entertainment value for me, I only watched because for some reason they mashed the Vegas Expansion Draft and it together. Joe Manganiello did a great job reminding us why it’s not really worth watching.

Tweet(s) of the Week

Thomas’ Power Ranking of NHL Expansion Logos

(No earlier than 90s expansion)

10. Columbus Blue Jackets

This logo was just too busy, bright and flat out ugly to represent an actual NHL franchise.

9. Florida Panthers

Why did it only get scrapped last year? It’s been a long-time coming.

8. Atlanta Thrashers

Mediocre logo, but I don’t hate it. I only just realized that the bottom half of the logo is the wing of the Thrasher and not some sort of brown tornado. That makes a bit more sense…

7. Nashville Predators

This looks like the logo for a low-end energy drink.

6. Tampa Bay Lightning

When I was younger I had a soft-spot in my heart for this logo but, yeesh, has it ever not aged well.

5. Ottawa Senators

One of the most “meh” logos of all-time. I don’t know how it could invoke any strong feeling for anyone, good or bad.

4. Vegas Golden Knights

I could almost just copy and paste my comments on the Senators’ logo. One of the most valid criticisms I’ve heard is that the Vegas centurion looks like it could be the Senators’ alternate logo.

3. Minnesota Wild

I truly learned to appreciate this logo in Dr. Hyatt’s 2P00 “Introduction to Professional Sports”. What makes it a good logo is that while it appears simple, it is fairly intricate. Some people see a sunset over a forest and others see that the whole thing is a bear. The star for the bear’s eye is a callback to Minnesota’s defunct NHL franchise, the North Stars.

2. San Jose Sharks

Iconic 90’s design that has aged well as a kind of eccentric, vintage look that people still will throw on hats and shirts.

1. Mighty Ducks of Anaheim

The Movies, the TV show, Paul Kariya, Teemu Selanne. This logo is still one of my all-time favourites.

CB: I just recently realized that the Thrashers logo was actually a bird too, but considering it took years to actually figure that out should just show that this was not a good logo. I actually liked the Blue Jackets logo, the CBJ is easy to see and while there was a lot going on, it didn’t seem overly complicated either. And I know the Mighty Ducks logo is classic (and the inspiration for our ball hockey team), but Minnesota’s logo is the best logo. The way that people see it in different ways, whether it’s the bear or the sunset, but the tribute to the North Stars is a nice touch as well. You have the right logos in the top 3, but the order is a bit off. In my opinion, the top 3 go like this:

  1. Wild
  2. Mighty Ducks
  3. Sharks

BB: Can’t really argue too much with the order of this list. It’s pretty clear there’s a huge gap in quality between the top three and the rest of the bunch. One thing I’d say though is that I’d have the Lightning and Predators logo higher on the list than the Senators. Can’t stand the look of that old Sens logo, maybe there’s a bit of historical bias there.

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