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Photo Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Fun Debates and a Big Thank You

April is a wonderful time to be a sports fan. You have hockey playoffs in the AJHL, WHL, AHL and NHL. You have NBA playoffs. MLB has begun, the NFL draft is next week, followed by the CFL draft, and the NHL will announce the finalists for player awards.

There is no shortage of topics to discuss and debate.

Last night, Sidney Crosby scored his 173rd playoff point and surpassed Mario Lemieux to become the all-time playoff points leader in Penguins history. When Crosby’s career is over he could join the debate as one of the top-five players off all-time. But Evgeni Malkin shouldn’t be very far behind.

Malkin has 162 points in 153 playoff games while Crosby has 172 in 152 playoff games. Crosby averages 1.13 points/game while Malkin is at 1.06. Yet we rarely hear about Malkin among the greats of today’s games.

Malkin has been grossly overlooked. It is still embarrassing he wasn’t among the top-100 players of all-time. If he was Canadian he’d be on the list, because there is no chance Jonathon Toews is a better player. In 791 NHL games, Toews has 674 points while Malkin has 930 in 784 games. Malkin has one Hart Trophy and two Art Ross. Toews has never finished in the top-ten in scoring in an NHL season.

Crosby has been dynamic, no question, but Malkin is not far behind. Since Malkin entered the league in 2006/2007, he has scored 1.19 points per game in 784 games, while Crosby has produced 1.30 points/game in 783 games. If Crosby is in the conversation of top-five greatest of all-time, will Malkin be in the top-20?

Here are a few questions you can answer in the comment sections.

1. Between 2007-2016, who are your top-five players in the NHL? I think a decade is a good timeline and I opted for those years, because it won’t include McDavid, who had only played 45 NHL games. Who are your top five players over those ten years? In order from one to five?

2. Who is the best goalie from 2007-2016: Carey Price, Roberto Luongo or Henrik Lundqvist?

Lundqvist has the most starts, 558, and among the only 39 goalies who started at least 200 starts, his .920sv% is fifth behind Braden Holtby (.921 in 236 starts), Tomas Vokoun (.921 in 306 starts), Tuukka Rask (.924 in 313 starts) and Cory Schneider (.925 in 255 starts). It is very difficult to maintain a .920 sv% over a decade with that many starts. Roberto Luongo is very close at .919 in 502 starts, while Price has a .920sv% as well in 438 starts. Lundqvist made 120 more starts than Price and maintained the same sv%. Impressive.

3. After watching this year’s playoffs, do we really need more teams in the postseason? We had two four-game sweeps. Four other series sit at 3-1 and it could be six if Boston and Columbus win tonight. Would having the Panthers and Blues in the playoffs really made it better? Not for me. I see no need to expand the postseason.

4. Why is the hockey culture much more serious than the NBA? Did you see Kyle Lowry and Demar Derozan joking around on the podium after their game? We never see that in hockey. I’m not saying it is bad, but is clearly different and I think at times hockey, along with fans and media, take it too seriously.

5. Who do you like in the Pacific Division final, the Sharks or the Golden Knights?

It is interesting how many are saying other NHL teams should follow the Golden Knights approach, by giving players opportunities etc, but I think we should pump the brakes a bit. It is one year. Can they do it again? David Perron, James Neal, Reilly Smith and Jonathon Marchessault had been productive players before, but Perron, Marchessault and Reilly had career bests. Will they again? William Karlsson had an unreal season, while Eric Haula jumped up to 29 goals. I understand the love for the Golden Knights, but it is one season. If anything teams should look at San Jose and see how they have been able to maintain being a top team for 20 years.

Since 1998, they have made the playoff every year except 2003 and 2015. They have had 95+ points 14 times. They have won 16 playoff series and reached the Finals once and the Conference Finals three other times. Because they haven’t won a Cup they get critiqued, and some of that is warranted, but over 20 years they have been able to maintain being a very competitive team. The Kings and Hawks won Cups, but they were also terrible for long stretches. Of course the Sharks void is not having a Cup, but they have been consistently competitive and been able to stay near the top for 20 years.

6. Would you rather be a Sharks fan or a Hurricanes fan? The Sharks have never won a Cup, but are consistently in the playoffs and have won at least one playoff round eleven of the past 20 seasons. The Hurricanes lost the final in 2003, won the Cup in 2006, and made the Conference Finals in 2009. But they’ve only made the playoffs five times in 20 years.

Would you rather have one Stanley Cup and five playoff appearances, or no Cups, and 18 playoff appearances in 20 years?

THANK YOU…

This is Gregor’s Grads fifth year in operation. I started the foundation in the fall of 2012, and in the spring of 2013 we had our first fittings. We provide a new suit, shirt, ties, shoes and now socks for High School grads who are unable to purchase their own suit. Mr. Derk has been our partner since day one and Sterling, Patricia and their staff do a great job of fitting the boys in their suits.

I feel it is very important to be transparent about our Foundation. 100% of the money we raise goes to fitting the boys. We can outfit a grad for about $250. The odd one is a bit more, if they require a special size, but we do a lot of advance planning, and Mr. Derk uses their relationships with many suppliers to keep our costs down. Papa Johns Pizza has always supplied pizza on fitting day, and this year, Popeye’s Louisiana Chicken stepped up and surprised every boy with a special GC. It is such a nice added bonus.

Our first year, we fitted 42 grads. This year we will be between 95-100. It has really grown, which is fantastic, but it requires more fundraising.

My wife Traci and I donate the first $5000. It was my idea, and I believe it is important to put up funds. We save for the year and this is one of our big donations.

The Oilersnation tournament raised $10,000 for our foundation in the fall. And other past donors have already donated over $2,500 this year.

We are at $17,500 right now, which is great, but with a big jump in numbers this year we need to raise more.

We just had our first fitting day earlier this week, and it has become one of my favourite days of the year. It is great to watch the boys walk out of the change room, look in the mirror and see themselves in a suit for the first time. They stand a bit taller and their confidence radiates through their smiles and in their eyes. It is amazing.

Here are some letters we received last year from some of the boys who used The Gregor Foundation.

Thank You Gregor’s Grads for the blessing that I desperately needed this year. Your gift gave me comfort and serenity. Without your thoughtfulness I would have been troubled. You made my graduation day a blast. I am truly thankful and I appreciate your present.

Cody
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Gregor Foundation,

My name is Tristan and I was one person who was impacted by your generosity of the Gregor Foundation Suit Program for my graduation. For all of us at our school, district and city we thank you ever so much for giving us the pride to cross the stage in a magnificent and inspiring suit. I am truly thankful for this opportunity I was given and I’m glad to know that in the future there will be other students who will be given the same.

I wish the Founder, Mr. Gregor, and all the volunteers and donors who help make this happen a wonderful and prosperous live.

Thank you,

Tristan.

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Dear Gregor Foundation,

Thank you so much for your generosity and kindness donating the beautiful suit for me. I brought smiles to my face, warmed my heart and lifted my spirits. Without your help and generous act, I would not have been able to attend commencement and graduation banquet in his awesome suit you gave me as a gift.

It meant so much to me. I am so delighted and impressed. My family hardly makes ends meet and we couldn’t afford to buy such an amazing suit as the one you gave me.

That’s why I thank you so much again, from the bottom of my heart. You made my grad events the best days of my life.

With love and appreciation,

Yom

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These are 17 and 18 year-old young men and their words really warmed my heart.

HELP IF YOU CAN

I would really appreciate it if you could make a donation. $250 fits one boy and $500 fits two. If 15 readers donate $500 we will make our goal.

If you would like to donate please send me an email to grads@jasongregor.com and include your name and phone number in it.

Thanks in advance. If you can’t donate, no worries, thanks for reading about Gregor’s Grads.

Recently by Jason Gregor:

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    I felt that the Knights luck was up against the Kings but look what happened ! So should I even say their luck is up against the Sharks? And in my opinion, the Sharks are a better team than both the Kings and Ducks.

    • crabman

      I think it is a tough question. If you are looking at a decade it should be 2006-07 season to the 2015-16 season. Overall body of work in that time mine is;
      1. Crosby
      2. Ovechkin
      3. Malkin
      4. Thornton
      5. Kane

      Thornton was the 3rd highest scorer in that decade and he was very consistent. Karlsson is a more dynamic player but during that 10 year stretch he had 4 great seasons.
      If I was to go by the most dynamic players over that time and not by the entire body of work I would put Karlsson on the list instead of Thornton.
      I put Kane there because he is that dynamic and has won an Art Ross, Ted Lindsay, Conn Smythe, Calder. Has played at a high level since joining the league and has played fantastic in the playoffs with some huge clutch goals. Plus his 3 cups.

      Honorable mentions;
      St.Louis
      The Sedin twins

        • Hemmercules

          Challenging for the cup haha. When? 10-20 years from now? Everything the Oilers touch turns to sh*t. They cant draft so no goalie there, they dont have the bucks or the assets to get and elite goaltender unless one falls into their lap somehow. If they are lucky they will be a wild card bubble team until McD jumps ship and then who knows, maybe another DOD or two?

          • Hemmercules

            You’re right. I’m an idiot for loving the Oilers my entire life. But here I am. McD’s free years are gone and the team is strapped with overpays and NMC’s. Nothing under Katz leadership has lead me to believe they can ever be a true contender. Wild card team yes. I believe they could be a wild card team as-is but adding players that actually make a big impact is going to be tough for the next 3-4 years unless Chia or the next guy finds a few cheap gems and does some good drafting. They just finished in the basement after one of their best seasons in the last 25 years and they only replace a couple assistant coaches. We’ll see how this plays out. I’m obviously not overly confident and I don’t expect a lot of big moves this summer unless they ship out Nuge for who knows what. I’m just hoping they can give Connor at least a sniff of a cup before his contract is up or he’s gonzo for sure.

    • All Ice

      Seriously debatable comment. Quick was arguably the better goalie (I believe he was) but him and his stats were undone by his teams inability to produce or match the Knight’s offence

  • gordo

    most important i thank you for being a solid supporter of the community. next, 16 playoff teams in the nhl is more than enough. i’d rather have malkin than toews, or kane for that matter. i guess i’ll go for the sharks, but i hope the jets win the cup

  • BobbyCanuck

    2006/07 we trade Pronger, if we had a GM with half a brain he could have parleyed that trade demand to scooping Pittsburg first pick, damn it all

    But then, I have to remember that all that ineptitude during our DoD led to McDavid

    • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

      That’s the only thing that kept me going after the horrors of the DoD. It all worked out as it had to in order for us to land McDavid. Now the puck is in management’s zone with regards to building a team around him, and so far they’ve bungled the breakout pass and look ready to just put it off the glass and out.

    • gr8haluschak

      what a stupid comment, yes you are right it is so easy to trade in the NHL, tell me what else was pronger traded for in his career, Brendan Shanahan, Eric Brewer and spare parts, twice 2 firsts, lupul, a prospect, and a conditional pick but yes he was getting a first overall pick. Oilers fans are some of the most stupid in the NHL, it really is amazing when you look at it.

  • toprightcorner

    The biggest thing, i believe, is motivation of personal embarrassment. From the very first team mtg, they were told that they were castaways, their past teams didn’t believe in them, they were bottom of the pile and now it is their turn to prove them wrong. That is the type of motivation you can just manufacture, every single player had something huge to prove and that is much easier to maintain for an entire season.

    This is the same reason why I think Lucic will rebound next season. He just didn’t have a bad year, he had an embarrassing last 50 games, no a little embarrassing, but “will I be bought out after 30% of my contract” embarrassing. Lucic has never been so motivated going into an off season and that could really benefit him.

    • ubermiguel

      The draft rules had Vegas picking not from the bottom but the middle of the other teams’ depth charts. So essentially it’s a team of ok players playing with a huge with a chip on their shoulder, it’s remarkable.

  • 1. 2007-2016 best players: Crosby, Malkin, Ovechkin, Karlsson, Keith

    2. Price with Lundqvist close behind

    3. No. Half the teams in the league make the playoffs. I know when there were fewer teams, a majority of teams made the playoffs. Adding more games to the playoffs would require removing 3-7 games from the regular season. Division teams already play each other 4 to 5 times in the season. There’s your “series”–like MLB, just spread out more.

    4. Hockey is more serious than basketball because of the equipment, investment cost, physicality, and culture of dress. It is far more expensive for parents to put their kids into hockey over basketball, so the parents then take it more seriously, and the kids do too. At the local rink, you often see bantam players wearing suits to and from games. NHL players are very well dressed going to and from the arena. NBA? Whatever floats their GOAT.

    5. Golden Knights over the Sharks. After their sweep of the Kings, I’ve decided I will no longer underestimate them. Fleury is on fire. Vegas won the season series (see! “series”!).

  • toprightcorner

    I think the biggest reason LVK have been able to maintain their success for this long is that there was no locker room pecking order, no egos, no group in charge, they were all in the same position and the only way to succeed was to have everyone’s back and everyone have an equal voice.

    The was no culture, so there was no culture to change. Culture has so much to do for chemistry and commitment to your teammates and laying it on the line every game.

    I think that is still an issue with the Oilers, but I have no idea where the problems could be. Last year I think they had a great culture, but did success change that? Did people who had breakout years like Klefbom, Maroon, or Draisaitl get too cocky? Did they start calling others out with the early season struggles? Or was is guys like Cagguila, Sleppy and Benning who figured after 1 solid year and team success that they had made it and life would be easy?

    All I know is that if there was 1 or 2 players who were definite bad apples, those are the guys I get rid of, no matter what. If it is a core player, they have an extremely short leach and if things continue, trade them. This team is too young and lacks the veteran leadership to balance those bad apples.

  • Hemmercules

    I would take the 1 cup and 5 playoff appearances in 20 years over perennial playoff appearances and no cup. The Oilers never make the playoffs anyway so Im pretty used to it. Come to think of it, they aren’t too far off 5 playoff appearances in 20 years and have no cup to show for it.

  • The Rookie

    I’ve been cheering for Vegas all year. I did not think they would make the playoffs before the season started, I do not think they will have the same success next year, but it’s great for hockey when a new market can come in and compete, and therefore get butts in the seats. Who knows, maybe they still pull off the Karlsson deal in the summer.
    My top 5
    1-Ovi
    2-Crosby
    3-Malkin
    4-Daughty
    5-Stamkos

    I know I will take heat for Ovi > Crosby but it’s just my opinion. I’m not one of those “Crosby’s a bum” guys, I’m just enamoured by what Ovi can do, and what he has done.

    I think Lundqvist is the best goalie over that time frame.

    Do u mean Carolina lost in conference finals in 03, not the finals. Because wasn’t that the year Jersey won?

    I would be okay with a one game play off for wild card teams. It won’t mean much in the long run but it makes things a little more exciting. 4 wild card spots per conference. Winners move on.

    I think Canadians have an elitist attitude when it comes to hockey. Oh how we loathe the cliche interviews but heaven forbid someone have a little fun with it or show confidence, the experts would tear him apart!!

  • toprightcorner

    My top 5

    – Crosby
    – Ovechkin
    – Malkin
    – Thornton
    – Doughty

    I chose Doughty over Karlsson because even though Karlsson is better offensively, he has only been really solid defensively for about 3 years, where Doughty has been the better all around defensemen. To me playing the position well trumps more offensive.

    I was really close to taking Weber, because other than this year with injuries, he has been a top 5 dman for each of those 10 years and probably the 1st dman every GM would take to build a team around.

    Stamkos, Kane, St. Louis, Sedins and Datsyuk all just missed the cut. End of careers, injuries or not around long enough were all factors that pushed these guys out

  • toprightcorner

    Top 5 goalies since 2007

    – Lunqvist
    – Vokoun
    – Luongo
    – Price
    – Rinne

    Vokoun jumps into 2nd place, because while he only played 306 games since 2007, he never played on a team while that team was good. Nashville wasn’t that good when he played there and Florida was horrible. The guy posted 1 shutout for every 10 games he played since 2007. That is insane!! You put up that .921 SV% with poor teams, and that is special. If he was on any of Boston, NYR, Detroit, Chicago, Vancouver or the Kings and he has a .930 SV%, 15 more wins a season and probably a shut out in every 8 games played.

    On skill alone, he would be 1st, but you can’t deny the Kings dominance for the entire time and in 9 out of those seasons he was on Vezina ballots.

    Based on skill, I put Vokoun hot too far behind Hasek, he just never had the team in front of him.

  • Steveland Cleamer

    Gregor, I think your Gregor’s Grad’s is an INCREDIBLE charity bringing immense joy to many young men. They must all beam with pride walking across the stage receiving their diploma in front of all of their friends and families. They will also be able to use these suits moving forward in life as they go for their first job interviews and friends weddings. This is an immense gift you are bringing to them all.
    Good on you and your family for not only starting this foundation, but also being one of, if not it’s largest contributors. Excellent work, and the words from these young gentlemen is making me have a little something in my eyes…..
    Good work good sir!!!

  • Anton CP

    1. Malkin, Crosby, and Ovechkin are the top 3 and Stamkos should also be on the short list. I guess that I will pick one which would be a bit surprise: Pavel Datsyuk.

    2. Best goalie between? I’m surprised that Tim Thomas is not among the discussion…He won 2 Vezina and Conn Smythe during that period. He has a short career because he started really late. Price was a good goalie but I don’t believe that he is actually the among the top 5 goalies during the period without Canadian bias. Heck, I would even have Bobrovsky ahead of Price. My top 5 would be: Lundqvist, Quick, Thomas, Rinne, Luongo.

    3. I don’t think that the NHL need post season expansion too other than for the financial reason. If NHL will have a new expansion team then they will have 32 teams in total, 50% of the team to post season is perfect. This year’s first round is going quick but we do have a lot 6~7 games series with tons of overtime games for the last few seasons so it may just be one of those freaky year.

    4. I don’t think fans and medias are taking hockey seriously in America, but then NBA is not a sport of passion due to the lack of parity. I mean, the last few years to the extend of this season that you can skip every news and still be able to predict the champion (Warriors again this year). Teams are not playing for championships because that they are all fully aware that who will be the eventual winners. Here’s a fun fact: 2006 NBA finals featured 2 teams that has never been in NBA finals before with Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks, that was the first time since 1957 when Celtics and Hawks were the first timer. Almost 50 years that NBA have not featured a pair of new teams to compete for championship. Even, the last time a new team to reach NBA finals was 2007 Cleveland Cavaliers.

    6. I believe that to constantly be in the playoffs is better than one-and-done. As long as that your team is in the playoffs that it always has a chance. If the Kings can win cup as 8th seed then everyone has a chance. Just look at Vegas.