NHL Opening Weekend: Stars Who Age like Fine Wine
Hockey is back, and even if we as fans didn’t all get to see the results we were hoping for, I think we can all agree that having the NHL back in our rinks, and on our televisions is a welcome sight for all. Hockey fans who threatened to boycott throughout the lockout seem to be in low numbers as games were sold out, and television ratings for both NBC and CBC were through the roof.
One of the great stories of opening weekend was the play of some of our older NHL stars. Long-time NHL superstars like Teemu Selanne, Jaromir Jagr, and Alex Kovalev, had sizzling performances this weekend, and its great to see that these guys still have some gas in the tank and the ability to put on a show from time to time. There weren’t many games opening weekend and I’m gonna give these guys the three star treatment.
LWOS Third Star, Alex Kovalev, Florida Panthers: A tryout invitee to the team’s shortened training camp, the 39 year old Kovalev earned a contract and a spot on a line with Peter Mueller and rookie phenom Jonathan Huberdeau. Saturday night Kovalev paced the Panthers’ offence with a goal and two assists in a 5-1 victory over their Southeast Division rival Carolina Hurricanes. L’Artiste showed there was still magic in his hands with his excellent puck control, silky smooth dangles, fabulous wrist shot, and seeing eye passes. Kovalev may have lost a step or two over the years, and he struggled in his time Ottawa and Pittsburgh from 2009 to 2011 before playing last season in the KHL, but he’s out to prove the doubters wrong, and put on one more show in the NHL. Alex has always been one of the most talented players of his generation, but has had his commitment and effort level questioned. Can he prove the doubters wrong and have a solid season in Florida? Kovalev’s many fans certainly hope so. I definitely want to see more before I think about adding him in any fantasy leagues though, as there are more questions about Alex Kovalev’s ability to produce consistently right now, than there are about the next two legends who are even older than he is.
LWOS Second Star, Teemu Selanne, Anaheim Ducks: The Finnish Flash is 42 years young, and showing no signs of slowing down. He stormed out of the gate with 2 goals and 2 assists in helping the Ducks to beat up on the Vancouver Canucks 7-3 and chase Corey Schneider creating a goalie controversy for Mike Gillis and Alain Vigneault to deal with. Selanne has been a remarkably consistent performer who still had 26 goals and 40 assists for 66 points last season. He’s a real key to the Ducks attack pacing the second line, and bringing Anaheim the secondary scoring that every good team needs. I really don’t see age holding him back at all as it seems that Teemu continues to deny father time by being a workout fiend, and staying in outstanding shape. I’m glad he’s back as seeing the Finnish Flash due it one more time through the Western Conference will be great to see.
LWOS First Star, Jaromir Jagr, Dallas Stars: After a solid comeback season in Philadelphia, Jagr choose to sign with the Dallas Stars this off season. After scoring the game winner, and being involved in all four goals in the Stars season opening 4-3 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes, the choice to Jagr the First Star this week is an easy one. Jagr now sits just 1 point out of a tie for tenth all time in NHL scoring. Considering the fact that Jagr has lost 3 seasons playing in the KHL and been involved in 3 lockouts (1 full season, and 2 half seasons), it is a real question mark as to how many points he could have if he played a full, uninterruped career. Currently at 1657 career points, I don’t think its out of the question that Jagr could have scored enough points in those five years to be the second leading scorer in NHL history. He might have even been able to score over 300 points in those 5 years, leaving us with a chase for 2000 points in his career this season. All that said, I’m sure Dallas fans are happy that he will be putting up his points for them this season, and they really be happy to have this great opportunity to watch an absolute legend in action, even if its just for one season.
Main Photo Credit: S. Yume, Wiki Commons,