Tuesday, November 04, 2014


In the Cards! Hockey 2014

For a brief moment last week, when all of the planets were aligned, we had the perfect sports fan’s scenario. The time was near the end of the World Series; the NBA season opened that night; the NHL was in full swing; the CFL and the NFL were well into their seasons. All four major sports, crying for headlines.

Here in the Southern States, American college football takes a big bite out of the sports fan’s psyche. Even if you only attended elementary school in Kentucky, you will still become a rabid fan, especially during the “Sweet 16” of the college basketball finals in March. Everyone gets on board, and it’s not a bad thing.

I prepared myself for this year’s NHL season by purchasing the set of 600 O-Pee-Chee cards before I headed south. OPC has always been a leader in the sports card hockey world, and I have been faithful to the cause. There are 500 cards in the main set, followed by 50 rookie cards, and 50 “marquee legends”. The Bobby Orr card is a good example of the legends group. On the back of the card is a list of all of Orr’s career statistics, including that magical year when he had 139 points. He also had a plus 124 that year. Nowadays, if a player is plus 20, he is in the upper echelon of all NHL players.

One of my friends here in Fort Myers usually brings news from Chicago. There is a full page article about Andrew Shaw in the October 17, 2014 edition of the Chicago Sun-Times. Shaw discussed his desire to improve on faceoffs, and he talked about learning from Jonathan Toews in practice. “He is the best cheater in the NHL when it comes to faceoffs. It’s something you can’t learn overnight. It’s something that’s going to take time to get better at. You always want to start with the puck, so you’re not chasing it down and trying to get it back.”

Hawks coach Joel Quenneville indicated that he would like to see Shaw win half of his draws. He shared some of his hockey philosophy with the Sun-Times: “Young players, they get smarter, they get stronger, they get more aware of the tendencies of their opponents. As they get older, they know the referees a little bit. So we expect them to progress (in the faceoff circle). I thought he had good progression last year in that area, and, hopefully, he keeps going.”

Regarding the Florida Panthers, Roberto Luongo has been stellar this year. They are embarking on a road trip after success at home. Luongo played five years for the Panthers prior to his stint in Vancouver. The Panthers will rely heavily on Luongo, and hope that the rookies will continue to improve. They expect to make the playoffs. From that point on, anything can happen.

Both the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants were wild card teams entering the baseball championships. The Giants’ Madison Bumgarner has become the toast of the town, and rightfully so. He etched his name in the record books beside the greats of the game. With a few more years similar to the past year, he will be a lock for the hall of fame.

Former Belleville Bull Matt Beleskey has spent six seasons with the Anaheim Ducks. He has become a really solid player, although we do not hear a lot about him. He is playing on the left coast, as is Brad Richardson, now in Vancouver. Belleville’s Matt Cooke has been in the NHL for 15 seasons. How time flies! He is a valuable veteran for the Minnesota Wild, and he keeps the opposition honest at all times.

Keep ‘em sorted!!

James Hurst
November 4, 2014 

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