TORONTO (Sep. 2) — For as long as I can remember, dating to my grade–school years, there have been magazines that preview the National Hockey League. In the mid–to–late 1960’s, my dad brought home these items — whereupon I would defile them by cutting out photos for a scrapbook. The word “memorabilia” hadn’t yet appeared in my vocabulary. Beginning around 1970, at age 11, I took it upon myself to purchase and carefully store hockey publications; thus the enormous collection that litters my condominium today.
As partially evidenced by the photos, above and below, NHL preview magazines in my collection date more than half–a–century — to the Inside Hockey edition of 1967–68. Which just happened to be the last time the Toronto Maple Leafs were the defending Stanley Cup champion. Almost never in the interim have the Leafs and Stanley Cup been used in the same sentence, other than identifying the tournament Toronto players would be watching on TV once the regular season ended. Yes, there were flirtations with success in the late–70’s (Darryl Sittler, Lanny McDonald, Borje Salming); the early–90’s (Pat Burns, Doug Gilmour) and the early–2000’s (Pat Quinn, Mats Sundin). But, always, another team was favored to win the NHL championship.
That hasn’t necessarily changed for the 2018–19 season. As you’ll see in the early–preview magazines today, an Atlantic Division rival of the Maple Leafs is universally expected to play for the Stanley Cup next spring. But, at least one publication rates Toronto as the top team in the Division for the regular schedule. And, warns to “keep an eye” on the Blue and White once the playoffs start in April. Which, again, is farther than the overwhelming majority of preview magazines have ventured with the Leafs during the post–1967 era.
So, let’s get to it.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
Always, it seems, on magazine shelves by the middle of August are these three items: Digger Turnbull’s Sports Forecaster (top–left); Jason Kay’s Hockey News Yearbook (top–right) and Richard Beaudry’s Hockey Poolers’ Guide out of Montreal (bottom–left). And, it comes with profound irony that the Montreal publication chooses the Maple Leafs to finish ahead of Tampa Bay atop the Atlantic sector this season (bottom–right). All three magazines, however, predict the Lightning to be the Eastern Conference representative in the Stanley Cup final. Hockey Poolers’ has T–Bay conquering Nashville; the Forecaster has the Lightning over Winnipeg while The Hockey News believes Winnipeg will knock off Tampa Bay and become the first Canadian–based team to win the NHL title since Patrick Roy and the Habs in 1993.
In each magazine, Toronto is rated ahead of Boston in the Atlantic… meaning Game 7 of a Leafs–Bruins playoff series would not he held at the Godforsaken TD Garden. That, alone, should buoy Leaf zealots.
FROM THE HOCKEY POOLERS’ MAGAZINE (ABOVE AND BELOW).
LEAFS SCORING PROJECTIONS
Neither the Hockey Poolers’ Guide nor the Sports Forecaster picks a Leaf player to finish in the Top 10 of NHL scoring. John Tavares is ranked 11th by the Poolers’ and Mitch Marner 21st by the Forecaster. Here are projections for the Top 8 Toronto point–producers in the Poolers’ Guide (Forecaster stats printed beneath):
John Tavares ranked 11th. FORECASTER Stats: GP–77 G–28 A–52 PTS–80 (31st in NHL).
Auston Matthews ranked 18th. FORECASTER Stats: GP–80 G–44 A–40 PTS–84 (22nd in NHL).
Mitch Marner ranked 20th. FORECASTER Stats: GP–79 G–25 A–60 PTS–85 (21st in NHL).
William Nylander ranked 46th. FORECASTER Stats: GP–80 G–26 A–50 PTS–76 (38th in NHL).
Morgan Rielly ranked 65th (5th D.) FORECASTER Stats: GP–76 G–6 A–46 PTS–52 (88th in NHL).
Jake Gardiner ranked 85th (10th D.) FORECASTER Stats: GP–75 G–6 A–40 PTS–46 (196th in NHL).
Nazem Kadri ranked 117th. FORECASTER Stats: GP–77 G–27 A–26 PTS–53 (130th in NHL).
Patrick Marleau ranked 134th. FORECASTER Stats: GP–82 G–22 A–20 PTS–42 (222nd in NHL).
HOW THEY PICKED ‘EM: The Sports Forecaster (above); The Hockey News (below).
Top Scorer Projections: Poolers’ Guide (left); Forecaster (right).
SLATS IS 75 TODAY
Happy diamond birthday to Glen Sather, who played with Bobby Orr and coached Wayne Gretzky.
NHL ARENAS — A CLOSE–UP LOOK: PART 1
In the first of a three–part series, a pictorial look (in random order) at arenas of the 31 NHL teams:
XCEL ENERGY CENTER (St. Paul MN) — MINNESOTA WILD
GROUND BROKEN: June 23, 1998 / BUILDING OPENED: Sep. 29, 2000
THE XCEL ENERGY CENTER WAS BUILT ON THE SITE OF THE OLD ST. PAUL CIVIC CENTER (1973–98), HOME TO THE MINNESOTA FIGHTING SAINTS OF THE WORLD HOCKEY ASSOCIATION.
THE XCEL ENERGY CENTER HOSTED THE 2004 NHL ALL–STAR GAME AND THE 2011 NHL DRAFT.
DURING MY YEARS COVERING THE LEAFS FOR THE FAN–590, I WOULD STAY KITTY–CORNER TO THE XCEL ENERGY CENTER — AT THE HOLIDAY INN RIVERCENTER (BOTTOM–LEFT).
TD GARDEN (Boston MA) — BOSTON BRUINS
GROUND BROKEN: Apr. 29, 1993 / BUILDING OPENED: Sep. 30, 1995
FORMER NAMES: Fleet Center (1995–2005) / TD Banknorth Garden (2005–09)
REMARKABLY, THE TD GARDEN WAS BUILT ONLY NINE INCHES FROM THE NORTH WALL OF THE OLD BOSTON GARDEN, WHICH HAD TO BE CAREFULLY IMPLODED IN MARCH 1998.
THE ARENA HAS THE SAME PREDOMINANTLY–YELLOW SEATING DESIGN AS THE BOSTON GARDEN.
A STATUE DEPICTING BOBBY ORR SCORING HIS LEGENDARY OVERTIME GOAL TO WIN THE 1970 STANLEY CUP WAS ORIGINALLY MOUNTED 40 YEARS TO THE DAY (MAY 10, 2010) ON THE WEST SIDE OF TD GARDEN. IT WAS MOVED TO PORTAL PARK (ABOVE), EAST OF THE ARENA, IN MAY 2016.
GILA RIVER ARENA (Glendale AZ) — ARIZONA COYOTES
GROUND BROKEN: Apr. 3, 2002 / BUILDING OPENED: Dec. 26, 2003
FORMER NAMES: Glendale Arena (2003–06) / Jobing.com Arena (2006–14)
GILA RIVER ARENA IS LOCATED IN GLENDALE, NINE MILES NORTHWEST OF DOWNTOWN PHOENIX.
THE COYOTES’ ARENA (TOP–RIGHT) IS SITUATED ACROSS FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF PHOENIX STADIUM — HOME OF THE NFL’s ARIZONA CARDINALS. THE GRASS–FIELD IS ON ROLLERS, WHICH ALLOWS IT TO BE MANEUVERED OUTSIDE AND WATERED UNDER THE SUN BETWEEN GAMES.
BELL MTS PLACE (Winnipeg MB) — WINNIPEG JETS
GROUND BROKEN: Apr. 16, 2003 / BUILDING OPENED: Nov. 16, 2004
FORMER NAME: MTS Centre (2004–17)
BELL MTS PLACE HAS THE SMALLEST SEATING CAPACITY (15,294) IN THE NHL, BUT AN EMPTY PEW CANNOT BE FOUND FOR JETS GAMES IN DOWNTOWN WINNIPEG.
BB&T CENTER (Sunrise FL) — FLORIDA PANTHERS
GROUND BROKEN: Nov. 8, 1996 / BUIDING OPENED: Oct. 3, 1998
FORMER NAMES: National Car Rental Center (1998–2002) / Office Depot Center (2002–05) /
Bank Atlantic Center (2005–12)
LOCATED ON THE BANK OF THE FLORIDA EVERGLADES IN SUNRISE, 10.4 MILES NORTHWEST OF FORT LAUDERDALE, THE BB&T CENTER IS RATHER PICTURESQUE FROM THE OUTSIDE.
ROGERS ARENA (Vancouver BC) — VANCOUVER CANUCKS
GROUND BROKEN: July 13, 1993 / BUILDING OPENED: Sep. 21, 1995
FORMER NAME: General Motors Place (1995–2010)
ROGERS ARENA IS LOCATED ON THE EAST SIDE OF DOWNTOWN VANCOUVER, ACROSS FROM B.C. PLACE STADIUM (AERIAL SHOT, BELOW), HOME OF THE CANADIAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE B.C. LIONS. BOTH FACILITIES WERE INSTRUMENTAL DURING THE 2010 WINTER OLYMPICS. THE ARENA HOSTED HOCKEY AND WAS THE SITE OF SIDNEY CROSBY’S “GOLDEN GOAL” IN OVERTIME AGAINST THE U.S.A. THE STADIUM HOSTED THE OPENING AND CLOSING CEREMONIES BEFORE UNDERGOING RENOVATION.
AMERICAN AIRLINES CENTER (Dallas TX) — DALLAS STARS
GROUND BROKEN: Sep. 1, 1999 / BUILDING OPENED: July 17, 2001
VIEWED, BY MANY, AS THE NICEST ARCHITECTURE AND EXTERIOR OF ALL 31 ARENAS, THE
AMERICAN AIRLINES CENTER HOSTED THE 2007 NHL ALL–STAR GAME AND THE 2018 NHL DRAFT.
BELL CENTRE (Montreal PQ) — MONTREAL CANADIENS
GROUND BROKEN: June 22, 1993 / BUILDING OPENED: Mar. 16, 1996
FORMER NAME: Molson Centre (1996–2002)
AS WITH ITS PREDECESSOR, THE MONTREAL FORUM, THE BELL CENTRE IS RICH IN HISTORY — RETIRED
HABS JERSEYS AND STANLEY CUP BANNERS CROWDING THE ARENA RAFTERS.
SAP CENTER (San Jose CA) — SAN JOSE SHARKS
GROUND BROKEN: June 28, 1990 / BUILDING OPENED: Sep. 7, 1993
FORMER NAMES: San Jose Arena (1993–2001) / COMPAQ Center (2001–02) /
H–P Pavilion (2002–13)
IN 2016, THE SAP CENTER JOINED ITS CALIFORNIA COUSINS — STAPLES CENTER (Los Angeles) AND HONDA CENTER (Anaheim) — IN HOSTING GAMES OF THE STANLEY CUP FINAL. PITTSBURGH WON THE CUP AT THE SAP CENTER ON JUNE 12, 2016.