Final lockout points; Dubs next best goalie?

Posted: October 9, 2012 in Hockey

The Natonal Hockey League and National Hockey League Player’s Association are scheduled to have talks both tomorrow and Thursday, but ultimately those talks aren’t expected to lead anywhere.  Gee, what else should we the fans expect?  The league’s regular season was slated to start on Thursday with four games.  Instead of being at the rink, however, everyone will have their focus on seemingly pointless meetings as the two sides talk about “secondary” issues and nothing that will have a profound impact on the creation of a new CBA.  Meanwhile, more players are heading overseas to play in Europe.  It doesn’t take a genius to see how those movements do not bode well for the hopes of the season being reinstated.  If a deal was close, every one of those players would be staring at the phone waiting for their agent to call and not tying up the line with their travel agent.

One bright spot of the lockout – using that term extremely loosely – is the added focus to the lower levels of the sport.  The American Hockey League will get tremendous exposure thanks to both the added media as well as NHLers heading down to play.  Some will go even further south in the development leagues as both Scott Gomez (New York Rangers; Tri-City Americans alum) and Nate Thompson (Tampa Bay Lightning; Prince George Cougars alum) will go home to Alaska to play in Anchorage for the Aces of the ECHL.  One side note to Gomez: last lockout he played for the Aces and fell victim to a cheap shot that resulted in broken ribs (and disciplinary action to the team’s PA announcer for comments made during a later game).  An NHL owner’s greatest fear which is ironic because you can point the finger at them for creating the scenario in the first place.

Meanwhile I have put all of my NHL apparel in the closet.  My Canucks license plate frame is in hiding.  Anyone know where I can buy some NHLPA apparel?  Screw the owners and let the players play.  The day the puck once again drops will be a great day for hockey fans but will pale in comparison to the day that Gary Bettman finally goes away.

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Now that the NHL has officially begun to cancel games they have made it so much easier to despise them.  I can’t say definitively that I won’t talk about the lockout from this point forward, but I will do my best to avoid it at all costs.  Instead, I too will focus my attention to the other leagues still playing with the Western Hockey League being my primary point of emphasis.  By far and away the best developmental league in the world, I realize just how incredibly lucky I am to get to enjoy it on a regular basis thanks to the Everett Silvertips.  Through the years I have been able to witness some great talents come through town both for the Tips as well as the visiting teams: Gilbert Brule, Brandon Dubinsky, Shea Weber, Milan Lucic, Peter Mueller, Carey Price, Leland Irving, Ryan Murray.  The list goes on and on.

It’s too early to say, but last Wednesday night we may have witnessed another name to pencil onto that list.  Tri-City Americans second year goaltender Eric Comrie put forth one of the best performances I have ever seen.   Every shot he was reading the whole way.  Every rebound he was in position to make a follow-up save.  If a shot was wide and he ended up waving at it he would watch it all the way to the boards.  My body hurt just watching some of the lunging, sprawling stops he was making.  The kid was standing on his head.   Oh, did I mention all of this was just during the pre-game warm-up.  Through the years I have learned that it’s tough to get a read on how a skater will perform that night based on the pre-game skate, but goalies give a little bit more of an accurate read and that night was the first time I’ve seen a net minder win a game for his team during warm-up.

Yes, it was just one date on a long schedule but I will stand up and applaud Eric Comrie for proving what every good parent and every good coach tries to instill in their youngsters: if you practice great, you will play great.   Don’t be surprised to be hearing and reading his name for a long time to come.

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