(Editor's note: Welcome to Sean McIndoe's weekly grab bag, where he writes on a variety of NHL topics. You can follow him on Twitter. Check out the Biscuits podcast with Sean and Dave Lozo as they discuss the events of the week.)
The third star: Leo Komarov—The goal is nice. The celebration is some epic-level trolling.
The second star: Roberto Luongo—It's been a while since we've had a good Luongo tweet in this section, probably because the Computer Boys in Florida make him run all his jokes though a spreadsheet these days. But he came through when it looked like the Winter Class might be threatened by rain.
Man it would suck if these guys waited their whole lives to play in an outdoor game and then couldn— Strombone (@strombone1) January 2, 2017
The first star: Old guys at outdoor alumni games—I don't care how old it makes me sound, alumni games are at least as good as the real thing, if not better.
Last Saturday, we had two: Leafs/Wings and Blues/Hawks. Here's a rough power ranking of the comedy moments they provided:
5. Chris Chelios stealing Tie Domi's hat
4. Martin Brodeur pretending he ever played for the Blues
2. Kris Draper and Gary Roberts legitimately trying to fight each other
1. Lanny McDonald:
I honestly think I might be ready for an NHL alumni league at this point.
The issue: The World Junior Championships ended yesterday with a pair of medal games. Some teams went home happy; others teams were disappointments.
The outrage: Hey wait, you can't call those teams disappointments — they're only kids! What kind of monster are you?
Is it justified: We go through this every year. The WJCs arrive, a big chunk of hockey fans pay rapt attention, the games generate impressive ratings and are played in front of packed houses (uh, sometimes). The tournament has become, without question, a major event on the sports calendar, with real consequences for the various national programs and the career aspirations of the players involved. Watch it all, we're told, because this is important.
Then the tournament ends, a few of the players cry, and suddenly the whole thing was just a bunch of kids playing a game, and you're a jerk if you ever thought otherwise.
I mean, you can't have it both ways. Either the WJC is big-time sports, or it's not. If we're supposed to care when a team or player does well, you can't lecture us about noticing when they don't.
We see this in other sports, especially the Olympics and some U.S. college. But at least some of those athletes are true amateurs, often competing for the last time in a sport they'll never make a career in. By contrast, WJC players, at least for the top programs like Canada and the U.S., have been preparing for pro careers for a half-decade or more by the time they arrive at the tournament. They won't all make it, but most will, at least for a while.
So why is it wrong to point out that, say, a goaltender had a bad tournament, or a player was out of position on a crucial goal? That's what sports analysis is supposed to sound like, and it's what most of these players will be hearing for a big chunk of their next few years.
So why do some fans seem to want WJC players to get some sort of free pass? It can't just be because they're young; Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews are young too, and nobody suggests that they're off limits for criticism. If you made fun of Patrik Laine scoring into his own net, then you mocked a mortified teenager. And guess what: It was OK, because that's what fans do when they're watching sports played at a high level.
Obviously, you can take the whole thing too far. Not everything goes, just like critics shouldn't get to go overboard against seasoned pros. But straightforward criticism should be fair game, even if the kid on the receiving end looks really sad about it.
As mentioned, the outdoor alumni games were great fun. But while Chicago, Detroit and Toronto featured the typical mix of legends and less talented fan favorites, the Blues loaded up with a ridiculously stacked roster that featured Wayne Gretzky, Brett Hull and Adam Oates on the first line, with Chris Pronger and Al MacInnis on the blueline and Martin Brodeur in goal. Hall of famers like Peter Stastny and Bernie Federko were barely afterthoughts. You know that one crazy couple who get way too into board game night and make it awkward for everyone else? That's the St. Louis Blues when it comes to alumni games.
Anyway, I figured we might as well serve this week's obscure player honors to pretty much the only one the Blues invited to the game: longtime winger Scott Young.
Young was drafted by Hartford with the 11th overall pick in 1986, going two picks after Brian Leetch and one ahead of the fantastically named Warren Babe. He played his first full NHL season in 1988-89, scoring 19 times, then followed that up with 24 goals in 89-90. In 1990 he was traded to the Penguins for my old pal Rob Brown, won a Cup there, and then headed to the Nordiques for Bryan Fogarty. After a quick stop in Anaheim, he finally found his way to the Blues, where he played a career-high 377 games. He'd also have a stint with Dallas, and retired in 2006 having played in parts of 18 NHL seasons.
He actually wasn't all that obscure — he once had a 40-goal season, and he was a three-time Olympian who was good enough to make Team USA when they won the 1996 World Cup. But compared to the rest of the Blues' alumni Legends Row, he'll have to do.
There are two things I remember about Scott Young. First, and by far most importantly, he was one of the few players to have a 90 rating in both speed and shot power in NHL 95, making him a classic sneaky pick to be your go-to guy one one-timers.
Second, he was no relation to hockey's other Scott Young, the sportswriter, Hockey Night in Canada host and novelist who wrote Scrubs on Skates and other books, and was also the father of musician Neil Young. That's not really noteworthy, except that I spent a good part of my life convinced that they were related and was devastated to find out it wasn't true. Never trust me what I try to tell you something interesting. I probably have no idea what I'm talking about.
The Blue Jackets lost 5-0 to the Capitals last night, snapping their 16-game win streak just one game short of the NHL's all-time mark. The record is held by the 1992-93 Penguins, the Mario Lemieux/Jaromir Jagr-era mini-dynasty that had won back-to-back Cups and was on the way to a 119-point season. In the 24 years since, no team had made it past the 15-game mark until Columbus.
The Blue Jackets' streak was unquestionably impressive. But here's the thing: Columbus was never really challenging the Penguins' record. They can't be, because of something that happened on December 3 and December 20. Both nights, the Blue Jackets extended their streak by winning in a shootout.
Those didn't exist back when the Penguins were racking up their streak. Neither did wide open 3-on-3 overtimes. Back then, most overtime games ended in a tie. And a tie broke a win streak.
That's what happened to the Penguins. On April 14, 1993, the last night of the regular season, they snapped their win streak with a 6-6 tie in New Jersey. They wouldn't actually lose until they were four games into the playoffs.
Now to be clear: None of this is to say that the Blue Jackets' streak doesn't count. They're just playing by the rules put in front of them. Today's NHL lets teams win in the shootout, so today's win streaks will have shootout games included. But back in those wild and crazy days where games were decided by playing actual hockey, that option wasn't available.
For all their talk about never changing anything because of the sanctity of the record book, the NHL's embrace of the shootout and loser point have pretty much created two versions of history when it comes to streaks and standings. That's not the end of the world, but there's no sense in pretending that two completely different systems are somehow the same.
So be it resolved: NHL win streaks in the shootout era are a different category than they were in the old days. Not better or worse. Just different.
Wednesday was the 30th anniversary of one of the most infamous moments in international hockey history: The Punch-up in Piestany, the wild brawl that broke out between Canada and the Soviets at the 1987 World Juniors. The fight led to the disqualification of both teams, cost Canada a gold medal, and spurred an international debate over fighting in hockey.
We broke down the actual brawl in this space a year ago. But now that the game has officially reached the three-decade mark, let's take a look back at something almost as memorable: The moments afterward, as a live broadcast tries to figure out what's going on and Don Cherry tries very hard not to murder anyone.
Have a question, suggestion, old YouTube clip, or anything else you'd like to see included in this column? Email Sean at firstname.lastname@example.org.