Monday, January 4, 2010

Is there a Hockey News curse?

Sports fans know all too well about 'the curse' and what it can do to their favorite team or player. The Red Sox had the curse of the Bambino. The Cubs still have the goat. Entire seasons have been lost due to the Sports Illustrated curse. Plus, you have the Madden Football video game curse. This year it was a two-fer, with both Larry Fitzgerald and Troy Polamalu showcased on the popular game...and, yep, they both were injured.

Hockey fans take note, because there may be some negative karma brewing in the print world north of the border too. It's possible The Hockey News is the latest sports related curse to be rearing its ugly head.

Perhaps it isn't Ryan Smyth's fault after all that Anze Kopitar has lost his mojo.

Case in point - November 2008 Av's captain Joe Sakic is featured on the cover of The Hockey News. Three weeks later he injures his back, then some fingers and hand injuries. That's it, he's lost for the season and then retires.

You want more? The very next issue showcased young Maple Leafs defenseman Luke Schenn on the cover. Less than a month later he gets the famous lower body injury (knee) and misses a month of action.

Fast forward to this season. One of the best goalies in the world, Roberto Luongo, gets the cover for a late September issue. A month later, he injures his ribs and has to miss a handful of games.

OK, so you say injuries are just part of the game and it's a coincidence. Well, how about playoff performance?

April 16, 2009 Joe Thornton was the Playoff Preview cover boy. By now, everybody knows what happened to his Sharks in the first round after entering the playoffs as the top team in the West.

The following issue featured Zdeno Chara, captain of the East's top team - the Boston Bruins. What happens? Done, bounced in the second round by Carolina.

Not good enough for you? Let's look at some recent stats then...

Chris Pronger, Flyers defenseman, poses for a cover of The Hockey News in early November. The issue was released on 11/9/09. Prior to that he was a +11 with 14 points in 14 games. Since that time he is a -1 with just 11 points in 27 games. Cursed!

The next issue focused on three rookies playing for various New York teams. Last year's number one draft pick, John Tavares of the New York Islanders had 18 points and was a -1 in the 20 games prior. His numbers gave gone south since: -7, 10 points in 23 games. Another New York kid, Michael Del Zotto of the Rangers, was getting early Calder Trophy pub with his pre-cover play of 15 points in 20 games. Man, have times changed - only 5 points in 21 games since and a terrible -16 rating.

Which brings us to Kopitar. What's wrong with Anze? It's the million dollar question right now. Many people speculated it was the absence of Ryan Smyth. However, Rhyno's back now and things haven't really changed.

Kopi was The Hockey News cover boy for the December 14th issue. Ignoring his red hot start to the year - for the sake of trying to factor in the Smyth impact - in the 20 games prior to the issue being released on December 7th Anze had 16 points. The Kings have played 12 games from that point forward, a strech where Kopitar has just 5 points.

Is there a new curse to worry about in the world of hockey?

It's one possible explanation.

The Mayor

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