Could the New York Rangers be the NHL’s next great Dynasty?

Could the New York Rangers be the NHL’s next great Dynasty?

With the 2020 Stanley cup playoffs moving at a rapid speed we will have to look to next season and the future. With the biggest question is who will be the next great modern dynasty in the NHL and no it is not going to be the Vegas Golden Knights or the Boston Bruins it will be the New York Rangers and her is why.

If you look at the team, they have all the making of being the next Blackhawks as they have not only a dynamic duo for the next ten year but for the next 20 years. As the Rangers have Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad who have become the new faces of the Rangers Organization. Panarin has become the superstar New Yorkers have been clamoring for since the 94 championship. With the addition of Kreider for the next 6 years the first line has been solidified for the long-term future.

Speaking of Future, we look at the dept of the forward core and anyone can tell you the Rangers are built to be a competitor for years to come. Starting with the second line who will be your next dynamic duo for many years down the road as the rangers now have their version of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. As starting in the 2020-21 season they have a stronger more adjusted Kappo Kakko who will be coming into his own in his second season since being drafted 2nd overall in the 2019 draft and to complement him and give ranger fans hope for the next 20 year the team has first overall pick and future superstar Alexis Lafreniere. Along with Ryan Strome or possibly Filip Chital being the centerman for those two genuine goal scores most fans need shades for how bright the future is.

Along with several top players now moving around the third and fourth lines such as Buchnevich and Lemieux. The Rangers forward core can roll out 4 lines ever night and still have excellent talent on the bench just in case something happens.

Now to what most people see as the Rangers biggest Problem is the defense as that has been an issue since the team made the cup final in 2014. But now if you look at the dept once the team removes Staal and Smith from the lineup and add pieces such as K’andre Miller the team has stockpiled defenseman to have a strong backend to complement the forward core. If the ranger wants to continue to speed up the process of strengthening the defense thy can go out in free agency or make a trade to bring in a younger veteran.

Last but not least the goaltending and it is sad but the future is now as the age of king Henrik in New York is over and if the team is smart, they will buy him out and put that money to a younger kid. Or into a free agent for the future. Henrik Lundqvist can retire knowing that the team has a bright future in the Czar Igor Shesterkin an Alexander Georgiev being a suitable back up for the future of the New York Rangers.

Will Ovechkin Leave in free agency?

Will Ovechkin Leave in free agency?

For the first time in his career, Alexander Ovechkin will be a free agent in the 2020-21 offseason. The question is will he leave Washington or stay put with the team that drafted him?

The 34-year-old Russian phenom will be entering the final season of his 13-year, 124 million dollar contract next season.

The deal seemed rather a largesse at the time as it came close to the maximum 20% of the cap which is as high as a deal can go. However, with the Upper Limit of the cap increasing substantially since then (from $56.7MM in 2008 when the pact was signed to $81.5MM this season), the contract has even looked like a bargain at times.

There’s no denying that Ovi is an elite goal scorer and when all is said and done, the future first-ballot Hall of Famer might hold the NHL record. He sits eighth all-time with 706 tallies and while he’s still 190 shies of Wayne Gretzky’s record, he still has several years left in him. It’s not entirely crazy to think that the length of his next contract will ultimately determine whether or not he gets that top spot.

Ovechkin has led the league in goals for three straight seasons, scoring at least 48 in each season as well as winning a Stanley Cup with the capitals in 2018. While it’s understandable to say that he will slow down eventually, it is inevitable that he only has a few years left as a top scorer in the game. Undeniably, there will be plenty of interest in him if he was to make it to the open market in 2021. It also does not help that he has aid he is not willing to talk contract extensions until the new season starts when it starts.

With him probably being the main focus of the team going into the 2020-21 season with a new coach and a very similar supporting cast that he had in 2018. The pieces are there for him to say and try to win in DC again. But in a world where we have seen a lot of players such as John Tavares and Artemi Panarin who have gotten massive contracts in bigger markets. Would it make sense for Ovi to go and maybe try somewhere else and prove that he can do it on his own?

The other thing he could do is take a challenge like some past hall of Famers have done. Such as Mark Messier who took it upon himself to bring a championship to New York as Ovi has said he likes a challenge and he wants to beat Gretzky’s record for most points all-time and Ovi is on his way to do so. Ovi may want a challenge like that or the elephant in the room. He could want to finish his career on his home turf and go back to Russia. A lot of possibilities come to the 2020-21 offseason but all we know is he will get a very large contract no matter where he goes.

The Elite 8: 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs

The Elite 8: 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Now that the first round has been completed who is left in the chase for the cup and who will move on to the conference final?

First from the east is the Philadelphia flyers this team took out the Canadians in 6 games and they have a very good shot at going deep in the playoffs. Their biggest problem that could keep them from making noise is their defense as it was a bit shaky in the first round but it has to be almost perfect as they now have a very strong offensive team in the second round.

The New York Islanders a team that not only swept a two-time Stanley Cup champion in the first round last year. But they had almost swept the 2018 Stanley cup champions the Washington capitals in the first round making them look so bad that they fired their coach. This team is dangerous and is looking to give Barry Trotz his second Stanley Cup as he has shaped that team in his image and has made this team a force and will give Philly a problem in the second round.

The next matchup is the best defensive team the Boston Bruins who a lot of people wrote off after their number one goalie in Tuukka Rask. After he elected to leave the bubble due to family reasons. But now they are riding a hot Halak into the second round against a team that they know very well. This comes down to their whole team producing not just their first line.

Tampa bay needs to do one thing against Boston if they are looking to beat them in the second round and that is their offense has to get going. The lightning had a hard time against Columbus and now they have to take on the best defensive team in the league in Boston they are going to have to bring out the league’s best offense that the league saw in the regular season. For the lighting, it is cup or bust and of course, they have to go through Boston.

To the west, they top seed the Vegas Golden Knights are the team to beat in the west it is their cup to lose. This team is great upfront and in the back on defense. To close it out they have the hottest goalie in the league in Lehner playing out of his mind and backing him up is probably the best back up you could have in a three-time cup winner in Fleury. This is their conference to lose.

The team in the way of Vegas is the Vancouver Cunucks. The only way this team makes it any further is to take what they did in the first round which was taking out the defending champs in 6 games and harness the underdog mentality and put up a fight and hope a few lucky bounces go their way.

The last matchup in the second round sees an older Dallas team going up against a very young and hungry Colorado team. For Dallas to win this series they would have to take a win early which they have already done. They just have to keep Colorado to the outside and keep control of the series and they may have a chance to win it.

As for the avalanche they are in the same boat as Boston they will need their impressive first line to show up and for the defensive dept to keep a strong head and they will move on to the conference final for the first time since 2002.

An Underdog’s Climb to the Top

An Underdog’s Climb to the Top

(photo credit: packers.com )

Diyral Briggs was an underdog before he ever set foot on an NFL football field. The Bowling Green linebacker went undrafted in 2009 in a linebacker class that featured pro bowlers Brian Orakpo, Brian Cushing, and Clay Matthews. Early on in his career, Briggs learned a successful stint in the NFL is earned, not given.

A firm believer in hard work and giving others a chance, Briggs was given his opportunity by the San Francisco 49ers later that year. The 49ers signed Briggs as an undrafted free agent to serve as a backup. Briggs had his first NFL contract, but was still a longshot to make the 53-man roster as a free agent. “I kept a page in my locker that said, “You’re not gonna make it.” But I made the first cut, then the second cut, that I made that 53 to make the squad, and it was a dream come true.”

(photo credit: SFgate.com )

The rookie linebacker’s stint with the 49ers was brief, only appearing in five games from 2009-2010, but Briggs picked up important values during his time in San Francisco.
“It was when I was in San Francisco that I learned the importance of hard work and grit. Playing with guys like Justin Smith and Takeo Spikes was a tremendous honor and I realized the value of believing in myself.” said Briggs, who carries those values with him today.
After being released by the 49ers in September 2010, Briggs was signed by the Denver Broncos later that month. With NFL experience under his belt, Briggs was looking to aid the Broncos’ last-ranked defense. “When I went to Denver, I busted my butt to be a starter, but ended up getting paid to be on the practice squad.” Briggs cracked the active roster for only one game in the Mile-High City and was released in October.
Without a team for the second time in the young season, Briggs came to another important realization. “I needed to figure out how I could be more valuable to a team and find my role.”
Before Briggs could find his value to a team, a team needed to see value in Briggs. One day after being cut by Denver, the Green Bay Packers came calling for Briggs’ services and claimed him off waivers. The young linebacker did not find it hard to fit in with coach Mike McCarthy’s squad.

(photo credit: Krause Photography )

“Everybody had the opportunity to step up. Nobody was bigger than anyone else. We were in it together as a family.” That motto rang true late in the season. Heading into Week 16 against the 9-5 Giants, the 8-6 Packers needed a win to save their season. Before the game, Briggs recalls defensive coordinator Dom Capers delivering a powerful message. “If we want this team to sniff the playoffs, we have to win this game. But we know if we win this game, every game from here on out is a playoff game.”
Green Bay took Capers’ rallying cry to heart and came together and clobbered New York 45-17 while forcing six Giants turnovers. Little did the Packers know at the time that this was the start of a historic run.
The Packers became road warriors taking down the Eagles, Falcons, and Bears all on the road in root to Super Bowl XLV versus the Steelers. Experiencing a Super Bowl appearance was a lot for the 25-year old Briggs to take in. “It was a true honor. Being around so many hall of famers at one time was breathtaking and something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
Despite being a six seed 10-6 team, the Packers headed into Super Sunday as three-point favorites over the two seed 12-4 Pittsburgh Steelers. Prior to the biggest game of their lives, cornerback Charles Woodson and Mike McCarthy gave inspiring messages. “We win with one mind, one heart, and one goal!” said Woodson. The cornerback’s ideology went along well with McCarthy’s rallying cry to leave it out there on the field.
With the Packers leading 21-3 right before halftime, it was Woodson himself who literally left it out there on the field. Woodson laid out to tip away a deep sideline pass intended for Mike Wallace. Woodson landed on his shoulder and broke his collarbone. He was done for the night, which was a big blow to Green Bay. “He really was our anchor, motor, and the true veteran leader on our defense.” said Briggs.

(photo credit: Heisman.com )

The NFL’s second ranked defense did not let Woodson’s injury stop them or discourage their nobody is bigger than anyone else attitude. Unified under one heart, one mind, and one goal, the Packers were 30 minutes away from football immortality. Green Bay was able to fend off the Steelers’ attempts to tie or take the lead. Pittsburgh got as close as 28-25 in the fourth quarter, but the Packers responded with a Mason Crosby field goal to go back up by six. 31-25 Packers, 2:07 on the clock. The defense had to make one final stop.
Briggs and his racing mind may not have been on the field for the final drive, but as Ben Roethlisberger’s 4th & 5 pass went off Mike Wallace’s hands, Briggs’ mind went from racing to hardly moving at all. “Everything was in slow motion. I started thinking about my mom and dad and all I’d been through to get to that point. I’ve been an underdog my whole life and it’s something I’ll remember forever.” The undrafted free had reached the top of the NFL mountain. Just goes to show that no goal is unreachable as long as you believe in yourself.

(photo credit: packers.fandom.com )

Since his playing days ended, Briggs has begun passing that message along to children with autism. Briggs began working one on one with autistic children ages four to five in a group home and immediately realized it is his new calling in life. So much so that the Super Bowl champion linebacker is currently looking to open his own school for children with autism.
“I really want to focus on motor and social skills with the kids. And it all starts with them feeling a sense of accomplishment. The smallest feeling of accomplishment means the world to these kids.” said Briggs, who feels keeping the kids active helps with their discipline as well.
Like so many other current and former professional athletes, Briggs is using his platform for positive change for so many young kids. It is no secret that athletes giving back to the community makes a huge difference in people’s eyes. In this challenging time for society, Briggs sees an appropriate action all people, especially athletes, can take. “We need more love in the world and I feel all athletes can promote positive change just by using their strong platform.”

(photo credit: MLive.com )

In order to make a positive impact, three values stand above the rest for Briggs. “It all starts with faith, hard work, and respect, it’s what I teach my kids. Carrying yourself in that manner shows and really makes a difference.”
Diyral Briggs, who became a Super Bowl champion because of hard work and belief in himself, has now become a champion off the field by teaching children with autism to do just the same.
Marble League 2020: Yes, this is real!

Marble League 2020: Yes, this is real!

With the world of sports coming to a standstill just now getting back to some sense of normalcy. The world needed something to entertain them while the sports world went dark. Enter the 2020 marble league, where teams of marble with their names and backstories compete in a yearly Olympic style event.

Marble League 2020 was the fifth edition of the Marble League. This edition saw the return of the Minty Maniacs, who originally retired after the end of Marble League 2018. This edition also saw the Hornets, who won the fan voting competition, and the Bumblebees, the winners of the 2018 Hubelino Tournament qualify for the Marble League for the first time in their history. The Raspberry Racers were the defending champions coming into this year’s contest. This edition was sponsored by Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, and a $5000 donation would be given to a charity after every event under the winner of each event.

Every event was broadcast on YouTube with a full set of rules and commentary on each team and each individual running in each event. The community is insanely loyal to their franchises with teams like the O’rangers having fans compared to Manchester City. Along with the actual events and opening and closing ceremonies, there also are breakdown shows for each event and ESPN style interviews with coaches and “athletes”.

With the 2020 event raping up in as the event ran from the 21st of June to the 16th of august. The perfect time for anyone who was lacking some excitement to enjoy the Olympics of marble racing. The 16 teams competed in 16 events with medals being given out to the top 3 teams in each event with the winner of each event getting 5,000 dollars to a charity of the teams choosing and the overall winner of the league receiving $25,000 to their charity.

This year’s winner was the Savage Speeders with an overall point total of 202 to take the title from the Minty Maniacs. In this year’s Marble League, the Savage Speeders got off to a rough start, ending up in the last place two events in. But the team had a strong second half of the season, and eventually went on to win the Marble League for the second time. Thereby completing the treble, after winning both Marbula One Season 1 and the Marble League 2020 Qualifiers.

This new crazy “Sport” is not going away any time soon as the creator of the marble league Jelle’s Marble Runs has a new fanbase after seeing their viewership skyrocket with the coronavirus pandemic forcing people to find some new entertainment. The new season of Marbula one starts up in September and the marble league is set to return in 2021 with the Crazy Cats eyes set to host the event.

What is the plan for the XFL?

What is the plan for the XFL?

Just weeks after the season started and there was hope for a new brand of professional football the plug was pulled on the XFL because of COVID 19. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel, with an unlikely hero coming to save the league – The Rock. Despite the irony of Vince McMahon’s company being bought by one of his biggest former stars what does this mean for the new XFL?

Following several rumors of numerous bidders being involved, there were reportedly only two offers that came in before the deadline, and Johnson’s group is the only one that qualified. While the deal is still pending approval from a creditors’ committee, the group is excited about the chance to make a second XFL relaunch work.

The XFL’s newest owners plan to keep several of the league’s key components in place, including president Jeffrey Pollack and his team. Better yet for XFL fans, an eight-team league remains possible and they are even thinking about expansion, which was one of the main goals for the league in their second season.

The XFL in this second incarnation was very successful and to most accounts, the football was different and very good. The teams were loved by their markets. One of the most popular teams, the St. Louis BattleHawks, had to open the second deck of their stadium because so many fans wanted to attend games.

It is still a big question of when Johnson and Garcia’s group evaluates team locations, they will examine how each market fared regarding stadium attendance and television ratings. The XFL could attempt a return in 2021 by playing in a bubble, something the league considered before its shutdown.

If not, taking two years to make sure the right people are in place and everything is in order could allow the XFL to finally be successful and last for more than one season. With the backing of one of the biggest stars in Hollywood the league has been given new life and should return with all 8 teams returning at some point in the future.