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Top 5 Contenders For The Stanley Cup In 2013

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As the 2013 NHL regular season enters its final month, it is time to start thinking about which teams are positioned to make a run at the Stanley Cup. These teams have the depth, talent and leadership to go far this year. Which five teams have what it takes to contend for the Stanley Cup this year?

1) Chicago Blackhawks

The Blackhawks were the first team to clinch a Stanley Cup playoff berth this season. This was due in large part to going 23 games to start the season without a regulation loss. They still have the best record in the league as they head to the final 10 games. Their roster is loaded with players such as Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews who is having a MVP type season. Additionally, they have two goaltenders in Ray Emery and Corey Crawford who can win games when their team needs them to. In fact, Emery has lost only one game this season in 19 games.

2) Pittsburgh Penguins

Although they are without Sidney Crosby for an extended period of time, they are still the team to beat in the east. Trade deadline deals to bring in Brenden Marrow and Jarome Iginla helped boost the depth as well as the amount of veteran leadership on the team. With Crosby out, it will be on players such as Evgeni Malkin and Chris Kunitz to provide the scoring boost. Kunitz currently leads the team with 20 goals this season. When it comes to goaltending, Marc Andre-Fleury is one of the best in the league. His 20 wins and 2.31 GAA are among the best in the league this year.

3) Anaheim Ducks

The Ducks are one of the biggest surprises in the NHL this season. They started off slowly this year after stumbling down the stretch last year. However, they have managed to become the best team in their conference outside of Chicago. In any other year, they would have been looking forward to a top seed in the playoffs. Unfortunately, Bobby Ryan and Corey Perry will have to start the playoffs as the only other team likely to beat Chicago on their way to a possible Stanley Cup.

4) Boston Bruins

The Bruins have everything that you need to make a Stanley Cup run. They have an amazing goalie in Tukka Rask, big defensive players such as Zedeno Chara and a plethora of guys who can score goals. They are committed to playing defense above all else. That is going to help them significantly when the playoffs roll around. The team that can win a 2-1 game is more likely to win than the team that needs to score four or five goals to gain a victory.

5) Montreal Canadiens

This last spot could have gone to the Kings, but the Canadiens are due for a run to the Stanley Cup finals. They are a young team with a hot goaltender in Carey Price who can stand on his head when necessary. P.K. Subban is an outstanding defensive player who can hit as well as score a goal every so often. Montreal has waited almost 20 years for a Stanley Cup title. Will this be the year that the drought ends?

Technically, every team has a shot to win the title until they are eliminated. However, these five teams are the most likely to win the cup this year barring any surprises. For fans of playoff hockey, these are the teams to watch if you want drama, passion and intensity during the playoffs.

2013 NHL Trade Recaps

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The NHL trade deadline officially came and went on Wednesday afternoon. Before the deadline passed, there was a flurry of activity between teams that were looking to improve their rosters. Here is an overview of the big names that were moved in 2013.

Marian Gaborik Goes To Columbus

The Blue Jackets got Marian Gaborik from the New York Rangers in what may have been the most shocking trade this season. It signals that Columbus believes that they could make a serious run to the postseason. Gaborik will replace the star power that was lost when Rick Nash went to the Rangers.

Jaromir Jagr Goes To The Bruins

Although he is 41 years old, Jaromir Jagr is still one of the best players in the league. His 14 goals are more than anyone on the current Bruins roster and he should be able to fill a role on the power play. Overall, this is a solid pickup for a team that needed one more piece to seriously contend for a Stanley Cup. He is also a nice consolation prize after losing out on Jarome Iginla.

Jarome Iginla Is A Penguin

The Calgary Flames should have made this move about two years ago. However, at least they got something for him. For Iginla, playing in Pittsburgh will represent his first opportunity at a Stanley Cup since 2004 when the Flames won it all. For Pittsburgh, the chance to acquire him for a few fringe prospects and picks represents a deal that helps out now and in the future.

Jason Pominville Gets Traded To The Wild

Minnesota is looking like a scary team to have to play in the first round of the playoffs. They acquired the Sabres captain in exchange for two prospects as well as a first round draft pick in 2013. For Buffalo, it signals the end of an era and the beginning of a new direction for the organization.

Jay Bouwmeester Gets Dealt To St. Louis

Bouwmeester was one of the top defensive players on the market this year. It is no surprise then that the Flames were eager to deal him. Calgary received a first round pick in the 2013 draft which should be useful as the Flames try to claw their way up from the bottom of the NHL.

Ben Bishop Is Heading Down South To Tampa Bay

On paper, this doesn’t seem like a blockbuster trade. However, Bishop played well during his time in Ottawa. Tampa Bay needed a solid young goalie who could be the future at that position. If he pans out, the Lightning could very well be headed back to the playoffs next season.

The NHL trade deadline saw a lot of great players moving to different cities. As of today, it is time for the buyers to start thinking ahead to the playoffs while the sellers start to think ahead to next year. For the players, it is time for them to live up to the expectations that the fans will undoubtedly have for them.

Comparing The Winning Streaks Of The Hawks And The Heat

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The Chicago Blackhawks have set an NHL record having gone 24 straight games without a single loss in regulation to start the season. In the NBA, the Miami Heat are currently on a 18 game winning streak. While both are impressive feats, which winning streak has been the most impressive?

How Miami Has Done It

The Heat have scored at least 98 points in 15 of their 18 victories during this winning streak. They have topped 100 points 12 times while topping 110 points six times. Miami has held their opponents to under 100 points in thirteen of their victories. In other words, they have been able to score while also playing solid defense.

How Chicago Has Done It

The Blackhawks have the fourth highest goal total in the league so far this season. They also have allowed the fourth fewest goals in the league and lead the league with a goal differential of plus 27. The second best goal differential belongs to Anaheim at plus 23. In other words, they are dominating their opponents like no one else in the league.

Star Players Have Risen To The Occasion

Patrick Kane has risen back to prominence so far this season for the Blackhawks. During this streak, he has 27 points including 12 goals. This puts him in the top 10 in each category. Goalie Corey Crawford has been stellar in goal posting a 1.41 goals against average in his 10 starts this season. Not bad for a backup.

For the Heat, LeBron James has proven why he is the best player in the NBA. He had a streak of six straight games of shooting 60 percent from the field while also scoring 30 or more points per game. That has never been done before in league history. Even with an aging Dwayne Wade playing beside him, he has still been able to carry the Heat on his back.

The Tie-Breaker

Both streaks have been equally impressive and will not happen again for a long time. However, the edge has to go to the Heat in this debate. This is because the Blackhawks have the luxury of not calling an overtime loss an actual loss. They still get one point for it and get to keep the zero in the regulation loss column. If the Blackhawks were playing by the same rules as the Heat, they wouldn’t even have the fewest losses in the NHL. Therefore, the Heat get the edge in terms of who had the better winning streak.

Sports fans ultimately don’t care how a team wins when they are playing as well as Chicago and Miami have played this season. They just like to sit back and enjoy the show. It isn’t every season that a dominant team emerges that can crush the competition on a given night. However, fans of the two teams know that these streaks mean nothing if they don’t win a championship this season.

Should amateurs play for the Stanley Cup if there is no NHL season?

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As the NHL lockout drags on, it is becoming likely that the season will be ultimately cancelled within a matter of weeks. If this happens, the Stanley Cup will stay with the Los Angeles Kings for another summer. However, should the Stanley Cup still be awarded to an amateur tam or a team from a minor league?

The Case For Awarding The Stanley Cup To An Amateur Team

The Stanley Cup was originally awarded to the best amateur team in Canada. In fact, the first Stanley Cup was awarded to Montreal HC in 1893. It was given to an amateur team until 1915 when the National Hockey Association (NHA) and the Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA) agreed that its champions would play for the cup. What this means is that there is history and precedent behind the idea that the Stanley Cup should be given to an amateur team if the NHL is not going to be playing for it this year.

The Case For Keeping The Cup In Los Angeles

The Stanley Cup has been awarded annually to the champion of the NHL for several decades. Giving it to a team outside of the NHL would would be unfair to the players and coaches of the Los Angeles Kings. What is different about the Stanley Cup is that the same cup is awarded to the NHL champion each year. Therefore, any team that won the cup may not get the cup unless Los Angeles agrees to surrender it. The only alternative would be for the Kings to play another team for the right to have the Stanley Cup. These are both unlikely scenarios.

The Case For Giving The Cup To A Minor League Team

The American Hockey League (AHL) is considered the top minor league in North America. It was argued during the last lockout in 2004 that the champion of that league should be awarded the Stanley Cup. However, that notion was shot down as it was assumed that the champion of the AHL would not truly be the best team in North America. However, this lockout has sent many quality players to the AHL who would be playing in the NHL if a season were currently ongoing. Therefore, the AHL champion could be considered a worth recipient of the Stanley Cup this year.

The most likely scenario is that the Stanley Cup will stay with the Kings for another summer if there is no season. It would be too difficult to determine a champion or to get the NHL to relinquish the rights to the cup for this season. When the NHL resumes play next season, it would be unlikely that a NHL team would want to play against a minor league or amateur team for the Stanley Cup. Therefore, fans of the Kings can rest assured that their cup is going nowhere until another NHL team takes it away from them.

Why The Lockout Is An Example Of Employer-Employee Working Relationships In America

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For many hockey fans, the latest NHL lockout is simply a dispute between billionaires and millionaires. While the NHL did make over $3 billion last year, there are many similarities between what the players are facing from management and what average workers are facing from their own bosses. If you look carefully, the dispute is more than just a bunch of greedy people not being able to split billions of dollars without fighting about it.

The Players Want Their Contracts Honored

In the old CBA, the players were making 57 percent of revenues. In the new deal, the owners wanted a significant rollback. The NHLPA agreed to reduce their share of hockey related revenue to 50 percent. However, they also insisted that all current player contracts be honored. The NHL wanted players to put any payments that would push their total share of revenue above 50 percent into an escrow account.

How is this relevant to the relationship between American workers and American employers? Well, there is a perception that companies cannot save money because unions refuse to negotiate with management. There is another perception that unions are unwilling to take pay cuts to keep their jobs. While this may be true in some cases, the vast majority of the time the workers simply want management to honor the terms of contracts already signed.

Some Feel Like The Players Should Be Lucky That They Have Jobs

While it is certainly not a guarantee that professional hockey players should have their jobs, it isn’t as if they bring nothing to the table. Without their talent, fans would not spend hundreds of dollars to go see a game in person. No owner would be making any money at all if it wasn’t for the skills that top players have. The players also have to risk their lives each game. One severe injury could be enough to ruin their career or physically impair them for life.

In general, workers tend to get pushed around because business owners feel like workers are replaceable commodities. While this may be true to some extent, workers do deserve fair compensation for what they do on a daily basis. No one is suggesting that workers deserve more than the owners. All anybody wants is to be compensated fairly for the value that they provide the company. Far too often, workers are pressured into taking deals because management or other workers use the excuse that they are lucky to have a job at all.

Both Sides Risk Everything By Not Going Back To Work

Both sides make their money from ticket sales, merchandise sales and television deals. If fans don’t buy tickets or merchandise, there are going to be less money to go around. If fans don’t watch games, television stations are not going to pay a lot of money for TV rights and advertisers won’t want to sponsor the games anymore. When there is less revenue being made, each side will have to take less money going forward.

In a sport that has seen record revenue growth in recent years, it makes no sense to shut things down to a point where the customer may not come back. No brand is immune to failure regardless of how large it is. Hostess is a perfect example of how no company can do well without its workers. GM showed that even a large company cannot do well without a fair deal for both the company and the workers. Therefore, both the NHL and the NHLPA need to settle this quickly and get back to work with a fair deal that grows the financial pot for players and owners.

The NHL lockout should never have started in the first place. The problem is that the NHL thought it could push the players around into taking an owner friendly deal. While the owners do have a right to make a profit, they have no right to subjugate employees or fail to provide reasonable wages and benefits to employees. While this is seen as mostly a sports debate, there are some real similarities between the NHL lockout and labor disputes going on all around the country.