10 Teams That May Benefit From the NHL Lockout
10 Teams With Possible Benefits from a Lockout
It is difficult to see the third NHL lockout since 1994 in terms of anything but what has been lost: lost revenue, lost games, lost paychecks for many people—not just players. That's a granted. However, a little extra time off may actually provide benefits to some teams. As they always say, every cloud has a silver lining, and while the lockout is a particularly large cloud, it too may have a silver lining for many teams in the league.
Some of these teams may benefit for similar reasons. For example, injured players will gain more time to rest—and, if they're classified as long-term injured reserve, they may meet with team doctors and trainer, personnel their non-LTIR teammates are not allowed to talk to at all.
Teams with a lot of young talent in the pipeline benefit from that young talent playing, whether in the North American minor or junior leagues or over in Europe. When the NHL doors unlock, these young guns could be ready to ascend to the top tier of the sport and fit in with the team.
Plus, some teams benefit from not being in the headlines so much for various other reasons, like goaltending controversies.
Not every team is listed here, but some of these things may apply to other teams as well in addition to the ones on this list.
So, here's a look at teams that may actually benefit because of the lockout, even though of course every fan wants their favorite guys back on NHL ice. Related: check out the list of 10 teams that are hurting from the lockout.
Boston Bruins: Experience
When Tim Thomas decided to take the year off, was it: a) to spend more time with his family, b) to make waves on his Facebook, c) because he saw the lockout coming or d) all of the above? No matter what, it put Tuukka Rask in the starting goalie position, which he hasn't occupied since 2009-10. He's getting some experience being the starting netminder for HC Plzen in the Czech Republic and doing well, even facing down some of his Bruins teammates. Young Bruins like Jared Knight, Ryan Spooner, Dougie Hamilton and Malcolm Subban are also getting experience in the AHL and juniors.
Chicago Blackhawks: Rest
Marian Hossa's concussion-causing hit from Raffi Torres in the first round of the playoffs (it seems so long ago, doesn't it?) ended his run early. While his brother Marcel plays for the KHL's HC Lev Praha, Marian will get some more time to rest, recover and return to game form without having missed any games that his teammates are still playing without him. Considering that he had a 77-point season in 2011-12, while playing all but one of the 82 games, the Blackhawks are going to very much need his production.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Newness
The Blue Jackets injected some new blood into their lineup with their end of the bargain from the Rick Nash trade. They also named a new president of hockey operations, John Davidson, a very no-nonsense kind of guy who has lived through a lot—like having four (yes, four) knee replacement surgeries. With Davidson, Brandon Dubinsky (pictured), Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon and Sergei Bobrovsky all coming in, and the 2013 All-Star Game to host (provided it’s not canceled), the Blue Jackets have some new troops and they want to prove people wrong.
Detroit Red Wings: The future
I recently read a very astute observation. “The world really went downhill when Nicklas Lidstrom retired,” it said. I thought about it in terms of not just the hockey world, but the world at large, and thought that person had it right. The Red Wings need to figure out what their future will look like, considering that many of their other core players are getting up there in age too. Hockey players can't do this job forever—their bodies just don't allow it—but some of Detroit's potential future big guns are getting their feet wet right now in the minors and overseas.
The important thing is apparently to set the world right in the absence of Lidstrom.
Edmonton Oilers: Experience
Taylor Hall got a clean bill of health after recovering from his shoulder surgery, which allows him to play in the AHL with many of his young teammates, like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle. (The Hockey News recently featured the Oklahoma City Barons on the cover and proclaimed that they “pity the fool” who has to face this A team.) This year’s first overall draft pick Nail Yakupov is playing on the big stage of the KHL right now. Justin Schultz, who made waves when he picked Edmonton over the team that drafted him, is also in the AHL. These youngbloods will be ready to go when the NHL doors unlock—but then there is the issue of having an arena in the future, an issue that team owner Darryl Katz has recently inflamed.
Los Angeles Kings: Rest
The defending Stanley Cup champions may not yet know when they'll get to raise their first championship banner to the rafters at the Staples Center, but when it does happen, the team will have had some extra time to rest after a big playoff run. Considering that the core elements of the championship team are still there—Conn Smythe winner Jonathan Quick, for example—that's a good thing. No champion team has repeated since the 1997 and 1998 Detroit Red Wings, but perhaps the Kings could break that streak.
New York Islanders: The future
The Islanders have a bright future ahead of them. When they move to Brooklyn in 2015, they'll enter a still-pretty-new facility that has an association with the Brooklyn Nets and Jay-Z, so the coolness quotient is there. (Is it too late for Jay-Z and Beyonce to collaborate on redesigning the Islanders' third jerseys?)
Fans may want to go to the old Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum between now and then, though, to soak in the memories. They'll also want to see important Isles like John Tavares, Michael Grabner and Kyle Okposo, but right now, the guys who can possibly fulfill New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg's imperative for the team to win another Stanley Cup are getting useful experience elsewhere.
Philadelphia Flyers: Rest
Like Chicago’s Marian Hossa, Flyers captain Chris Pronger is struggling with the effects of a concussion and may or may not return to the ice ever again. However, with this extended time to heal and consider his options—and meet with team trainer personnel if he’s classified as long-term injured reserve—he has time to think about the next step in his life without worrying about missing games that his teammates are playing without him.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Experience
The reigning Art Ross, Hart and Ted Lindsay Trophy winner, Evgeni Malkin, is keeping his scoring touch alive and well while playing in the KHL. As of this writing, he’s third in the entire league for scoring with 28 points in 18 games for Metallurg Magnitogorsk, where he was recently named captain after the original captain ran into disciplinary trouble. He also leads the league in assists.
Malkin stepped up and helped the Penguins when they were without Sidney Crosby last season. With this KHL experience, he’ll be willing to do that again if need be, or to simply contribute his firepower to a full strength squad, when Pittsburgh is back together.
Vancouver Canucks: Diversion
Before the lockout began, the talk of the town involved where Roberto Luongo was going to mind the net. Was it going to be Vancouver? Florida? Toronto? Chicago? Somewhere else entirely? The work stoppage put a cork in all that discussion for now and does give general manager Mike Gillis time to consider what to do, though he is not allowed to talk to Luongo about it. In the meantime, Luongo has taken to amusing people with his Twitter, where he talks about ice cream, Soap Opera Digest and current events.