NHL’s Oilers Stick to Script as Jets Take Off

July 7, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

2011-06-25T003338Z_1392868327_GM1E76P0NX901_RTRMADP_3_NHL-DRAFT

Ottawa Senators first round pick Mika Zibanejad, of Sweden, is all smiles at the 2011 NHL hockey draft in St. Paul, Minnesota,  June 24, 2011.

REUTERS/Eric Miller

ST. PAUL, Minnesota (Reuters) – The Edmonton Oilers stuck to the script by taking Canadian center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with the number one pick but it was otherwise a night of surprises at the NHL draft Friday.

Winnipeg, the NHL’s newest franchise, was back at the draft table for the first time since 1995 and used the stage to confirm the team would be named the Jets.

The Minnesota Wild made the biggest splash midway through the opening round, pulling the trigger on a blockbuster deal that sees all-star defenseman Brent Burns traded to San Jose for Devin Setoguchi, top prospect Charlie Coyle and the Sharks’ first-round pick which they used on Zack Phillips.

Once among the most coveted players on draft day, only one Russian was selected in the first round with the Tampa Bay Lightning taking Vladislav Namestnikov with the 27th pick.

That was the same number of Danes and Swiss selected, the Calgary Flames taking Switzerland’s Sven Bartschi with the 13th pick and the Vancouver Canucks grabbing Denmark’s Nicklas Jensen at number 29.

Canadian and Swedish prospects were all the rave in the opening round of the two-day lottery with 16 Canadians taken and six Swedes, including three in the top six.

Top pick Nugent-Hopkins, an 18-year-old who had a league-high 75 assists with the Red Deer Rebels last season, could prove to be the ideal setup man for last year’s first overall pick, Oilers winger Taylor Hall.

While no players with the caliber of Sidney Crosby or Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky were expected to surface from this year’s talent pool, Nugent-Hopkins has been described in Gretzky-like terms for his on-ice vision and creativity.

“It’s a dream come true,” said Nugent-Hopkins. “I always watched Edmonton this year and the past couple years actually and it’s just amazing that I got picked there.”

With the second overall pick the Colorado Avalanche took the player considered the most ready to make the jump to the NHL, Swedish winger Gabriel Landeskog.

The Florida Panthers, who have not made the playoffs the past 10 seasons, used the third selection on a pure goal scorer, claiming center Jonathan Huberdeau from the Memorial Cup champions Saint John Sea Dogs.

‘PERSIAN PRINCE’

The New Jersey Devils, with the fourth pick, did not hesitate to grab Swedish defenceman Adam Larsson, who had been tipped by many scouts as the best player in the draft.

The New York Islanders snapped up Canadian center Ryan Strome with the fifth selection while the Ottawa Senators took Swede Mika Zibanejad, known as the ‘Persian Prince’ because his father is Iranian and mother Finnish.

Winnipeg celebrated their return to the NHL by taking Barrie Colts center Mark Scheifele with the seventh pick.

As a beaming Scheifele made his way onto the stage, Winnipeg officials unfolded a jersey with an NHL logo stitched on the front but confirmed the team would be named the Jets.

“We are thrilled to be using a name that has so much history in our city and means so much to our fans,” said Mark Chipman, board chairman of owners True North Sports and Entertainment. “Our fans clearly indicated to us the passion they hold for the name since we acquired the franchise.”

The Jets name and logo are well-known to Winnipeg hockey fans.

The Manitoba capital was home to the Jets of the World Hockey Association before the team joined the NHL in 1979.

The Jets played for 17 years in the NHL before moving to Phoenix, Arizona, in 1996.

When it was announced earlier this month that the financially troubled Atlanta Thrashers had been sold and relocated to Winnipeg, speculation immediately began about the team’s name with a majority of hockey fans wanting to see the iconic Jets back on the sweaters.

13-28

Kareem Abdul Jabbar Feels Wronged by Lakers

May 26, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

kareem_abdul-jabbar-797Only in LA, can a basketball great like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar feel that he isn’t recognized like he should be. The form of recognition that Abdul-Jabbar is looking for is a statue of himself in front of the Staples Center. Today, the current collection of statues include Magic Johnson, Jerry West, Wayne Gretzky, Oscar De La Hoya and broadcaster Chick Hearn.  Abdul-Jabbar told The Sporting News, “I don’t understand. It’s either an oversight or they’re taking me for granted. I’m not going to try to read people’s minds, but it doesn’t make me happy. It’s definitely a slight. I feel slighted.”  And in a statement he added:  “I am highly offended by the total lack of acknowledgment of my contribution to Laker success. I guess being the linchpin for five world championships is not considered significant enough in terms of being part of Laker history.”

It seems like things have not been good between Abdul-Jabbar and the Lakers, since he feels slighted when asked by the Lakers to take a salary cut while the team was paying Phil Jackson more than $10 million to coach and was also offended by getting seats on Lakers flights in the back of the plane when spacious seats were available up front.1106-GQ-PF09.01

“It’s just about a whole lot of smaller incidents that, as they pile up on you, you get the feeling you don’t mean anything to them,” he said.”I’ve never been this vocal about anything,” he said. “I’ve always tried to stay out of the fray and not be an object of controversy.”

And Kareem made it clear he feels the Lakers have taken care of Magic Johnson, but not him. Asked about his relationship with Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss, he answered: “It’s okay . . . When you look at what he did for Earvin and what he did for me, big disparity there.”

13-22