Welcome to the first ever post of the Hockey Education Committee, hosted graciously by the PUCK BUNNIES!
The intentions of my soon-to-become incessant posts are to educate those on facets of hockey. Whether it's the game, the league, or the finer details, I hope to enlighten my readers (and myself as well) on the greatest game on ice. If this can consider one more person to start watching hockey, then I'll consider it a success.
Now, on to the mailbag:
What was the Original Six?
-Unsure in Iowa City
Before any of you PUCKHEADS begin to giggle, you should realize that this is something very few non-hockey fans have the slightest clue about.
The Original Six is the name given for the six teams that comprised the entire NHL between 1942 and 1967: Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, and Chicago Blackhawks.
The Original Six period was formed when the New York Americans suspended operations, and ended in the NHL's great expansion of 1967, when six new teams entered the league.
Of these teams, the Montreal Canadiens were by far the most successful. During the 25-year period, they won 10 Stanley Cups. They also didn't miss the playoffs once between 1949 and 1967, an impressive streak. Chicago was easily the least successful, only winning one Cup and never finishing first in the league.
The Original Six is often hailed as having the "truest" form of hockey in NHL history. The fact that there were so few roster spots available around the league ensured that every game would be akin to an All-Star game in terms of talent level. The game also had more rough play in the Original Six era.
All in all, it was a very significant period in league history. Hockey legends such as Gordie Howe, Maurice Richard, Doug Harvey, Red Kelly, Bobby Hull, Terry Sawchuk, Ted Lindsay, and many more made their mark in the Original Six.
Now, moving on to something more modern...
Who would you say is the best team in the NHL right now? Why?
-Not-So-Diehard Hockey Fan, Germantown, WI
This was an incredibly painful question for me to answer. As you can probably tell, I am a huge Detroit Red Wings fan. Plus, they have an incredible team, and I still consider them my favourite to win the Stanley Cup. Sometimes, though, you just have to face the facts. And the facts are saying that the best team in the NHL right now is the San Jose Sharks.
They have managed to build an incredible team with a great blend of promising upstarts, savvy veterans, and superstars in their prime (Joe Thornton and Dan Boyle). Youngsters Devin Setoguchi and Ryane Clowe are playing great so far this year, and Patrick Marleau and Marc-Edouard Vlasic are bouncing back after less-than-stellar seasons. Everyone seems to be working hard, and really buying in to head coach Todd McLellan's system. Don't forget about their annual Vezina candidate goaltender in Evgeni Nabokov.
Then, there's the fact that all their potential is translating to results on the ice. So far this season, they are 23-3-2, which is absolutely sensational. That's good enough for first in the league.
I don't think they'll end up with the Cup, though. Why? Maybe somebody should ask me that one in a later mailbag.
Who has the most penalty minutes in a single game? How about a single season?
-The Captain, Saint Leo, FL
Randy Holt, formerly of the Los Angeles Kings, holds the record for most penalty minutes in one game. On March 11, 1979 against the Philadelphia Flyers, Holt accumulated an astounding 67 penalty minutes, for one minor penalty, three major penalties, two ten-minute misconducts, and three game misconducts. The guilty act? After picking up a minor penalty, he fought an enforcer, then instigated a bench-clearing brawl. The oddest part about this achievement, though, is that all 67 of his minutes were assessed in the first period.
As for the full season, that honour goes to Dave "The Hammer" Schultz, the chief enforcer for the Philadelphia Flyers during their Broad Street Bullies era of the 1970's. His record of 472 minutes in the 1974-75 season is 63 minutes ahead of the next-closest competitor, Paul Baxter of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1981-82.
That leads me to my final question, one that I needed to ponder for a while to find the right words...
Why are penalty minutes often considered positive, by announcers, Throwdowners, and on fantasy hockey sites?
-The Animal, Telford, PA
The simplest answer is that penalty minutes are the only readily available measure of a player's toughness. You can't find hitting and blocked shot stats without going on a wild goose chase, so we're stuck with penalty minutes as a measure.
Logic dictates that the more an individual hits others, the more penalties he will get. You also get penalty minutes for very good things, such as getting in a fight or preventing a goal. The intrusive one would say, though, "Shouldn't not doing your job well enough not be a cause celebre?"
The fact of the matter is that you won't get penalty minutes if you aren't hustling. The fact that you're racking up the penalties means that you are hustling, playing with guts, and tackling every situation. It shows, basically, that you aren't shying away from the action. THAT can never be a bad thing, and that's why penalty minutes are often glorified.
Feel free to FM me your questions for the next mailbag! For those of you whose questions I have yet to answer, don't worry about it. They'll appear here in no time.
Thanks for reading! I hope you continue following this series.