And while the Winnipeg Jets may be livin’ on a prayer when it comes to their playoff chances — the club is going to need a heck of a second half if it wants to be invited to Lord Stanley’s spring soiree — there’s still plenty to celebrate around the league.
With that in mind, I present to you my mid-season picks for the NHL’s major awards. Given the current sorry state of affairs around here, you likely won’t be surprised to not see any local products on the list.
But, by all means, feel free to send me your own lists to show me where I’ve gone wrong.
Jonathan Huberdeau, Florida
Alex Ovechkin, Washington
Kirill Kaprizov, Minnesota
Nazem Kadri, Colorado
Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary
Cale Makar, Colorado
Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay
Adam Fox, New York Rangers
Roman Josi, Nashville
Aaron Ekblad, Florida
Igor Shesterkin, New York Rangers
Juuse Saros, Nashville
Frederik Andersen, Carolina
Tristan Jarry, Pittsburgh
Jacob Markstrom, Calgary
Trevor Zegras, Anaheim
Anton Lundell, Florida
Tanner Jeannot, Nashville
Lucas Raymond, Detroit
Moritz Seider, Detroit
Coach of the Year
Dean Evason, Minnesota
Gerard Gallant, New York Rangers
John Hynes, Nashville
Mike Sullivan, Pittsburgh
Rod Brind’Amour, Carolina
GM of the year
Bill Zito, Florida
Bill Guerin, Minnesota
Don Waddell, Carolina
Joe Sakic, Colorado
David Poile, Nashville
Mike McIntyre, Sports columnist
A collection of random thoughts on my mind this week
No question the Winnipeg Blue Bombers bandwagon has loaded up over the past few years, especially as the football team claimed back-to-back Grey Cup championships. But there’s always room for more, and they’ve apparently got a famous fan in the fold based on this photo of David Letterman snapped outside 30 Rockefeller Plaza after his guest appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers Tuesday. Captain Obvious here: you can’t buy that kind of good PR.
David Letterman kept his noggin warm with a Blue Bombers tuque during a visit to Late Night With Seth Meyers. (Roger Wong / INSTARimages.com)
Spoiler alert: I’m writing my latest Free Press column today on the Blue and Gold. Look for it in Friday’s print edition, and online later tonight.
Bless my lovely wife, who knew I would be a bit down last weekend about not heading off to cover the Winter Olympics, which was the plan for the past couple of years until the global pandemic forced an audible a few weeks ago. She went and booked a mini-staycation, which included a terrific dinner out, a scenic stroll through The Forks, a stay at the Delta Hotel and 90-minute massages for the both of us that had me floating on a cloud. It wasn’t Beijing, but it was a darn good Plan B in my books. If you’re looking for a simple escape for the so-called real world but don’t want to stray too far from home, I can’t recommend this enough.
Mike and his wife, Chassity, had a Winnipeg weekend staycation– before the deep freeze really set in. (Photo by Mike McIntyre)
Got any other “staycation” ideas to share? I’d love to hear them.
I’m also heading to Dallas and Nashville next week to cover the Jets as they fill the Olympic scheduling gap with postponed games. Texas and Tennessee are pretty nice in the middle of a seemingly endless Prairie winter, so I’ll be enjoying that warm-weather audible, as well.
Speaking of Mother Nature, it would be nice if she stopped sending the white stuff our way. Seriously, I’m running out of places to put it. And our two rescue dogs, including sweet 13-year-old Cassie, is having a heck of a time navigating the backyard to do her business. I had to go “rescue” her on Tuesday night — running through the snow in my socks — after she zigged where she should have zagged and found herself stuck in a massive snowbank.
I just made the mistake of checking the forecast, and apparently another “clipper” is on the way. Delightful.
On the subject of our furry, four-legged friends, I dropped in to the office on Mountain Avenue earlier this week to fill out some expenses and was thrilled to be greeted by a new-to-me co-worker. Walter, the adorable canine companion of Associate Editor Wendy Sawatzky, was roaming around the newsroom, instantly making my day 1,000 times better. Dogs are the best. We really don’t deserve them.
Unfortunately, the Jets season appears to have gone to the dogs, based on what I saw at their home game last week against the Vancouver Canucks. In the words of a frequent former Free Press online commentator: “Woof.”
No bones about it, the Jets’ play of late has been quite ruff. (Photo by Mike McIntyre)
Faithful readers of this newsletter will recall I introduced you to Priscilla, my robotic room service attendant in Las Vegas during a Jets trip earlier this season. Turns out there’s a small army of Priscillas working in Beijing, based on photos and videos I’ve seen emerging from the athletes' village. Question: how long until they get tired of serving their human overlords and start competing in the various events? Having seen how much ground Priscilla was quickly covering in my high-risk Sin City hotel, I wouldn’t want to bet against her.
The robots are everywhere these days — including in Beijing at the Winter Olympics. (Photo by Mike McIntyre)
Do you plan on catching Olympic fever over the next couple weeks? Admittedly, the massive time difference between Beijing and here will make it tough to catch a ton of action live. But I’m a sucker for watching athletes who’ve trained their entire lives for these moments lay it all on the line, so I’ll no doubt be tuning in as much as possible.
Have a great week, folks. Stay safe, stay warm — and keep that shovel close by. Sigh.