From brother fights to a Stanley Cup ring for ‘Jumbo,’ we’re coming up with events that need to happen this season. And yes, Phil Kessel is involved.
Matthew Tkachuk (left) and Brady Tkachuk|Matt Zambonin/NHLI via Getty Images
The 2019-20 NHL season is upon us, people. And with it comes hope for almost every franchise in the league, or at the least, a shot at Alexis Lafreniere or Quinton Byfield thanks to the draft lottery. And while most fans will be hoping for their favorite team to win the Stanley Cup, I have a different set of standards for the season. Here are the 10 things I need to see during the 2019-20 campaign, in no particular order.
- Scott Sabourin scores a goal, then celebrates by pointing to the back of his jersey. How fun would that be? The 27-year-old minor-league journeyman gets his first shot in the NHL with the Ottawa Senators and after getting meme’d in the pre-season, this would be incredibly fun. Variation: Sabourin scores and his linemates take turns looking at the back of his jersey.
- Jack Hughes and Quinn Hughes, 1-on-1. The first opportunity for this comes Oct. 19, when the Canucks head to Newark. Jack, the rookie center, versus Quinn, the rookie defenseman. Jack gets the puck and comes screaming down the ice, with only Quinn back to defend. Who wins the battle? Or what happens when they both go into the same corner to get the puck? The brothers get a second opportunity on Nov. 10.
- Tkachuk Fight. Make it happen, kids. Brady and Matthew have quickly become two of my favorite players in the NHL and part of the reason is the edge that both possess. The brothers haven’t been shy about dropping the gloves, either – but they haven’t fought each other…yet. The first chance comes Nov. 30 when Brady’s Senators visit Calgary, with Ottawa hosting the Flames on Jan. 18. Fun fact: Brady once told me that when they were kids, Matthew made him so mad one time that their grandmother had to call ex-NHLer Phil McRae to break up the fight.
- Joe Thornton wins the Stanley Cup. He needs one. Time is running out, but ‘Jumbo’ is still good enough to be a contributor to a winner. Now, San Jose is an interesting team this season because the Sharks are trying to bring the next generation (Dylan Gambrell, Sasha Chmelevski, etc.) into the fold. But they still have some high-end guys like Erik Karlsson, Brent Burns, Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture. Heck, if it doesn’t work out, maybe Thornton gets traded at the deadline to a contender. Just get this man a ring.
- Women at the All-Star Skills Competition, part 2. This time, I want shootout participants. All-Star Weekend comes to St. Louis this season and to build off San Jose’s most notable news story, let’s get women from the Dream Gap tour to face NHL goalies in a shootout. I want to see someone attempt Jocelyne Lamoreux’s Olympic move.
- Brock Boeser plays 82 games. This one was already close because of the concussion the right winger sustained in the pre-season, but he has been cleared for Vancouver’s opener. Vancouver needs Boeser – heck, we all need Boeser and his preternatural goal-scoring ability. If he doesn’t play all 82, let it be because the Canucks gave him a night off and not some sort of injury. He deserves a clean season of health.
- Someone from the Kings goes off. I’m not even choosy on this one, but it looks like a season of pain in Los Angeles, so I’d like a surprise. Maybe Jack Campbell seizes the crease and goes on a Jordan Binnington-like run. Maybe Blake Lizotte is that guy no one knew about until he puts up 25 goals as an undrafted rookie. Maybe 18-year-old defenseman Tobias Bjornfot sticks with the club for the whole season. I just want one Black-and-Silver lining.
- Phil Kessel rules the desert. At this point, everyone loves Kessel, right? So here’s hoping for a big first season with the Arizona Coyotes. Let’s see Phil put up another 80 points and maybe even join a podcast or two.
- Seth Jones wins the Norris Trophy. Due to high-end personnel losses, Columbus may very well take a step back this season. But they still have two of the best young D-men in the game with Jones and Zach Werenski and if Jones can put up decent offensive numbers, we know he has the two-way game to compete for the title of Best Defenseman.
- Connor McDavid leads Edmonton to the playoffs. He needs it. We need it, simply because it’s not fun to still be talking about the Oilers struggling. Just imagine how driven McDavid would be in a seven-game series (or two or three) after only making the post-season once so far in his career. It would be epic and we all know it.