This is it,our 200th edition of Odds & Ends. This feature started over five years ago and we’re keeping with it. I do thank everyone who’s taken the time to read what I’ve had to write in this piece and I hope you continue to.
With the tragic events that occurred in Las Vegas on Sunday night where 58 people lost their lives and over 500 people were injured in one of the most horrific mass murders in American history,I thought we could do a positive story involving Las Vegas in terms of the sports world,and that’s the Vegas Golden Knights getting their first win ever in their first game ever on Friday night in Dallas.
James Neal was the man to score the first two goals in team history,which were enough to give the Golden Knights the 2-1 victory over the Stars. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 45 of 46 shots in the win. The Golden Knights are the first expansion team to win their first ever game since the Ottawa Senators did so when they joined the NHL in 1992.
“Being a new team, we have a lot of new fans and a lot of people affected by what happened,” Neal said. “Hopefully they tuned in tonight and we could put a smile on their face, because like you said we’re playing for our city and it’s going to be a lot of fun this year.”
“We can’t undo what happened, and we’ll do our best, we’ll work as hard as we can to make the city proud of us,” said Fleury, a three-time Stanley Cup winner in Pittsburgh who was left unprotected for the expansion draft.
I gotta say that with all that’s happened with Las Vegas in the tragic events last weekend that unfortunately leave us with more questions than answers that,in all honesty,we’re probably never going to get, it’s nice to see something happen that’s a positive for this city. Sure,it’s only one game in a long season,but it’s a win,and this brand new team got off to what they hope is the start of a surprise season.
If there’s one rookie who might be the most intriguing to me,it’s gotta be Kailer Yamamoto of the Edmonton Oilers. The 22nd pick in this year’s draft,Yamamoto, who stands at 5-8 and weights 155 lbs. is the first NHL player of Hawaiian descent to ever play in the league and made a lot of heads turn during the preseason where he scored five goals in five games and notched an assist. It was enough for the team to place him on the opening night roster and to send Jesse Puljujarvi,the fourth overall pick in 2016, back down to the Bakersfield Condors of the AHL.
It does help,though,when your head coach puts you on a line with the league’s most valuable player and Patrick Maroon to see if he has what it takes to hang with the big boys and was rewarded by making the team.
Yamamoto,19,made his NHL debut on Wednesday night when he was inserted in the starting line-up against the rival Calgary Flames with his family in attendance. While he didn’t register a point in 6:33 of ice time and he did admit to having nerves about his debut in the pros, his coach seems to have a lot of confidence in him and sees big things to come for the young forward.
“We’ll sit with him and review it,” said head coach Todd McLellan, “It’s faster, it’s bigger, it’s stronger, it’s more intense. The consequences for making or not making plays get amped up in the regular season. He has the first one under his belt, the nerves should come down a little bit. I think he’ll get better as we go on.”
I’m certainly wishing this kid luck. This is a guy who the Oilers were happy to see was on the draft board when they selected him over the summer and to see the progress he has made and the impression he has left thus far is amazing and a great part of a big youth movement we’re seeing in the NHL this season.
When the NBA All-Star Game tips off next February in Los Angeles,it will no longer be the East vs. West. It will now be two team captains selecting players,regardless of conference,to to their team.
The changes were spearheaded in part by Chris Paul of the Houston Rockets,who also serves as president of the NBPA.
“I’m thrilled with what the players and the league have done to improve the All-Star Game, which has been a priority for all of us. We’re looking forward to putting on an entertaining show in L.A.,” Paul said.
The total amount of players on each roster will be 12 and there will still be an equal amount coming from both conferences and the 10 starters will still be selected by you,the fans. The coaches will also select the remaining 14 reserves who will make up the rest of the rosters for both teams.
While I didn’t think this was a part of the game that needed fixing all that much,it’s actually not a bad idea. This has been done in the NHL and NFL and it works nicely as far as the NHL is concerned (I don’t think anyone gives a shit about the Pro Bowl). It gives fans the opportunity to see different line-ups like Stephen Curry playing with LeBron James or Karl-Anthony Towns playing with Kyrie Irving. The possibilities are endless. It also gives you the chance to see players who may have had love lost between one another face-off (Durant and Westbrook). Overall,it’s a great idea for the league’s midseason exhibition and we’ll see how it plays out.
Finally this week, we want to end with a light hearted story involving the greatest receiver of all time who may very well be the greatest wedding crasher of all time,Jerry Rice.
“I’ve done it so many times,” Rice told Kevin Clark of The Ringer, who reported Rice does so about once a week. “I just want to go up to the bride and the groom and congratulate them.”
Rice is also known to let loose on the dance floor, as evidenced by dancing along to “Blow the Whistle” by Too $hort at a November wedding in Carmel-by-the-Sea.
Rice says, “I don’t mind getting out there and cutting a rug and having fun. It’s my nature. I love people, and I want everything to be natural. I want to give people a memory.”
Many memories are made when Rice decides to swing by,even one wedding planner has an album of him at various weddings and parties.
“It’s so exciting to see their reaction. It’s usually, ‘Oh my god, I never thought I’d run into Jerry Rice on my wedding day,’” Rice said. “I’ve had some brides that start crying. I tell them, ‘You’re not supposed to be crying for me. Your groom is a different story.’”
I think it’s great that he goes to these weddings to be one of the congratulatory people to the newly wedded couple. Not all of us have a hobby and if that’s his,more power to him.
He’s having a good time with life and that’s all we can do,right?
Anyways,that’s it for Odds & Ends for this week,we’ll see you with Volume 201 next time!