Posts Tagged ‘Opinion’

Former Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne is having a great time watching Juuse Saros seamlessly fill his shoes in the Music City.

“I knew one day he was going to be the No. 1 goalie, and not only (Nashville’s) No. 1 goalie, but one of the best goalies in the league, and he proved that last year,” the franchise legend said, according to NHL.com’s Zach Gilchriest. “He’s the backbone of this team, and obviously, just as a friend, I’m very proud of him.

“It’s fun to watch him, and obviously, like everybody else, I’m expecting big things from him this year, and he looks great. I’m just always impressed when I see him skate.”

Rinne served as the face of the organization himself for 15 seasons. The Finn retired last July, ending his playing career with 369 wins and 60 shutouts across 683 games. He captured the Vezina Trophy in 2018 and was a finalist on three other occasions.

Now, Nashville seems to have another perennial Vezina Trophy threat on its hands in Saros, who was nominated for the coveted award this past season after logging a .918 save percentage and 2.64 goals against average in 67 appearances – the most in the league.

The 27-year-old’s underlying numbers were also stellar: He ranked fourth amongst all goaltenders in goals saved above average (16.9) at five-on-five, according to Evolving-Hockey.

Saros wasn’t able to help the Predators fend off the Colorado Avalanche in the postseason thanks to a late-season injury, but the way he handled the frustrating situation impressed Rinne.

“It was a big disappointment for him, for sure, missing out on the playoffs. He had such a strong season and played a ton of games, and right at a key moment, he got hurt,” Rinne said. “So, I’m sure mentally it was a disappointing time. But he is a pretty level-headed guy, and he knew that it was just a hurdle, and I knew he was going to bounce back.”

Saros told reporters earlier this month that he was “all good” for the 2022-23 campaign.

The puck-stopper’s emergence has certainly helped ease the Predators into life without Rinne, who is still serving the franchise as a special alumni advisor.

Saros will be key to Nashville’s success this season, as will defenseman Roman Josi and forwards Matt Duchene and Filip Forsberg, who both eclipsed the 40-goal mark for the first time in 2021-22.

One performer from WWF’s Attitude Era who Shawn Michaels believes would have been “phenomenal” in today’s WWE is Chyna.

A founding member of D-Generation X, alongside Michaels and Triple H, Chyna was a former WWF Women’s Champion and two-time WWF Intercontinental Champion. She died in 2016 at 46 and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as a member of DX three years later.

In 1999, Chyna became the first woman to appear in the Royal Rumble match, a groundbreaking moment. The WWE did not introduce a Royal Rumble match for the women’s division until its 2018 Royal Rumble event.

In a recent interview with The New York Post, Michaels said he believes the Chyna would have fit in great with WWE’s current roster.

“From a performer standpoint, she would clearly fit in and be phenomenal,” Michaels, 57, said. “I think what makes her the awe-inspiring, innovative and transforming woman that she was was that she did it earlier than all of them.”

Michaels said her style and character “would be a bit more commonplace today.” “She would certainly have an incredible career — but I don’t know that she’d be the trailblazer today that she is if she were currently doing it today,” he added, pointing out her status as a pioneer in wrestling world by competing for titles in both the men’s and women’s divisions.

Michaels’ interview comes as D-Generation X celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. The group is scheduled to make an appearance on the October 10 episode of “Monday Night Raw” at the Barclays Center in New York City.

Mandy Rose had zero clue she was earmarked for a jump to NXT before it happened in July 2021.

The current NXT Women’s Champion told Ryan Satin’s ‘Out Of Character’ show that she found out the news last-minute. That left her with a choice: Mandy could either grumble to WWE management and view the change of scenery as a demotion/negative, or she could double down on hard work and prove herself.

Rose, clearly, chose the latter.

She’s been NXT Women’s Champ for almost a full year now – Mandy beat Raquel Gonzalez (now Rodriguez) to win the belt at Halloween Havoc on 26 October 2021. Since then, she’s gone from strength to strength as a character and has visibly improved between the ropes.

Being able to lead her own Toxic Attraction group has given Rose more confidence too.

Mandy wanted to “ask a million questions” when WWE informed her she was NXT-bound, but decided against it. Instead, she promised herself she’d use the third brand as a platform to remove “stigma” that had followed her around for years.

Basically, Rose wanted to show that she could be a better wrestler.

Booker T is predicting that “WWE Smackdown” star Sheamus will someday join him as an inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame.

Speaking on “The Hall of Fame” podcast, the six-time world champion praised the Irish-born wrestler as someone who “has always been in my fave five,” noting how his focus makes him stand out within WWE.

“He’s a worker,” Booker said. “He’s not one of those guys that [is] just looking to be at the top of the guard. He’s a soldier and soldiers normally find their way to the top of the card.”

Booker also highlighted how Sheamus can switch wrestling personas with ease.

“As of late, he’s been able to change his character,” he continued, noting Sheamus’ latest incarnation as the “Irish pub drinking man with his boys hanging out whatnot. Sometimes when you’re in the business you’ve got to be able to shift gears for a second.”

While Booker admitted he was “one of the guys who wanted to see the “Celtic Warrior” again,” he nonetheless considered Sheamus to be a wrestler who “can actually go out there and have those matches with a Drew McIntyre, another big guy, [and] go to another big guy.”

Booker predicted this is “going to be the year of the heavyweight” and added that he loves “seeing Sheamus go out there [and] perform at this level. And, then again, I love what he tried to do also by switching his character and giving me some entertainment for a minute as well.”


The AEW women’s roster received a major upgrade recently when Madison Rayne, a former TNA Impact Knockouts Champion, joined the company as an in-ring talent and coach.

Rayne was recently interviewed by Tony Schiavone and Aubrey Edwards for the “AEW Unrestricted” podcast, where she talked about how she got started with the company. The former five-time Knockout’s Champion also mentioned some members of the AEW women’s roster that she’d like to wrestle.

“I’ve never been in the ring with Toni Storm. I’ve never been in the ring with Nyla Rose. So, it’s literally like all of these dream scenarios in my head … I would see Anna Jay or Julia Hart walking down the hallway, and I feel like me and Julia could really make magic together.”  

She added, “There’s so much potential to some of these younger athletes. And I feel like, at this point in my career, those are the matches that I want to have. The matches with younger talent who, hopefully, I can help elevate.”

Rayne then went on to discuss the rising stars who’ve stood out to her since joining AEW. “There’s just endless amounts of talent in the locker room. I feel like people haven’t even started to see the depth of Penelope Ford. Wait to see Bunny come back and, you know, she’s another one who once she really taps in and gets the minutes, and the things she can do with those match minutes are just insane.”

Rayne made her official 2022 debut with AEW on the August 5 episode of “Rampage” facing Leila Gray. She also participated in a TBS Championship match against the current champion, Jade Cargill, and faced Serena Deeb on the September 9 episode of “Rampage,” losing by submission.

The first season of Seth Jones‘ eight-year, $76-million megadeal is about to begin, but the Chicago Blackhawks aren’t quite where the defenseman thought they would be when he signed last July.

“It was a little frustrating to see (the trades this summer) at first. It’s not really what I or anybody had in mind, looking back a couple years,” Jones said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times’ Ben Pope. “But it is what it is. It’s going to make a lot of us better in here. We’ll be patient with each other and help each other through this.”

He added, “I don’t have any regrets.”

The Blackhawks’ last two offseasons have been radically different. In 2021, Chicago made a series of splashy moves and seemed poised to make a push up the Central Division standings. The organization traded for Jones then signed him to a hefty extension, and they picked up veteran goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury from the Vegas Golden Knights.

The wheels swiftly fell off, though. The Blackhawks went 1-9-2 to begin 2021-22 and fired head coach Jeremy Colliton in early November. Far out of the playoff picture at the trade deadline in March, Chicago dealt Fleury to the Minnesota Wild and sent talented young forward Brandon Hagel to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Blackhawks ended last season in seventh place in the Central Division with a 28-42-12 record, and the losses continued this summer. Chicago moved on from Alex DeBrincatKirby DachDominik Kubalik, and Dylan Strome, while the futures of franchise mainstays Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are hazy at best.

In the midst of all the turnover that comes with a rebuild, Jones said he’s focusing on the “bigger picture.”

“Patience is going to be important this year. At the same time, we’re going into every game trying to win,” he said. “We’re going to have to be a disciplined, structured team this year (and) make sure teams earn their wins and goals against us.”

Jones, 27, posted five goals and 46 assists in 78 games during his first season in Chicago. He averaged a career-high 26:13 of ice time per contest, the most on the team.

St. Louis Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly can become an unrestricted free agent once the 2022-23 season concludes, but the veteran center isn’t rushing to put pen to paper before the new campaign begins.

“I feel like because we have such a good team and some new faces, the focus is getting ready for the season,” he said, according to NHL.com’s Lou Korac. “But, obviously, we’ve kind of started some dialogue. There’s just no real rush. We’ve got a long time to figure that out and I’m not worried. I don’t think (general manager) Doug (Armstrong) is worried either.

“It’ll work itself out as it goes. The focus here is on training camp and getting in shape and getting ready to go.”

The Blues already handed out hefty extensions to Jordan Kyrou and Robert Thomas in the summer. The identical eight-year, $65-million pacts won’t kick in until the 2023-24 season but will take a sizeable chunk out of St. Louis’ available cap space. The Blues also have winger Vladimir Tarasenko, whose current contract expires at the end of this campaign, to think about.

However, O’Reilly isn’t spending much time worrying about the Blues’ salary cap situation.

“I think if I was younger, I think it would be more of an issue and such, but I feel like I’ve been established,” he said. “I kind of know where I stand. There’s no real urgency. Hopefully, we find a way to make it work. I feel I’m happy with just waiting and just focusing on the season.”

O’Reilly, 31, has donned the “C” for St. Louis since 2020. His 250 points in 287 games since arriving via trade ahead of the 2018-19 campaign are the most on the team.

The two-way talent put up 21 goals and 37 assists in 78 contests last season. He will carry a cap hit of $7.5 million in 2022-23.

The Blues finished third in the Central Division after posting a 49-22-11 record. The Colorado Avalanche eliminated them in the second round of the playoffs.

If there’s one thing you don’t want to do, it’s finding yourself in the crosshairs of one Maxwell Jacob Friedman, MJF. The AEW star may be the “salt of the earth” and the “mensh of the censch”, but that won’t stop him from putting someone down if he feels it’s necessary. Friday, MJF seemed to deem it necessary to go after NWA owner and promoter, and Smashing Pumpkins head honcho, William Patrick “Billy” Corgan.

After Corgan tweeted about how he would be on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon”, along with a bizarre, seemingly House of Black style photo, MJF took to Twitter to give his opinion on the matter.

“What a weird little loser,” MJF tweeted.

Unfortunately for Corgan, MJF wasn’t done either. Responding to his own tweet, MJF tagged a former NWA World Heavyweight Champion with a question regarding Corgan.

“Matt Cardona, what’s this [dude’s] deal?” MJF asked.

As of this writing, Cardona hasn’t responded to MJF’s question, while Corgan himself hasn’t responded to MJF’s tweet. It’s also unclear why exactly MJF decided to go after Corgan, although it’s always possible that the top contender for the AEW World Championship just isn’t a fan of Corgan.

MJF was most recently seen onscreen this past Wednesday at “AEW Dynamite” Grand Slam, where he got into a tussle with Wheeler Yuta and at one point even shoved down announcer Tony Schiavone. He was later seen in the crowd watching Jon Moxley defeat Bryan Danielson to win the vacant AEW World Championship, setting the stage for MJF to challenge Moxley for the title in the future.

MJF has no plans of stepping inside a New Japan Pro-Wrestling ring. 

MJF recently made his return to AEW by winning the Casino Ladder Match (under a mask) at the All Out pay-per-view.  In storyline, it was explained that AEW CEO Tony Khan bumped up MJF’s pay without signing him to a contract extension in order to get him to return. MJF told Ariel Helwani on “The MMA Hour” that he took notice of how much top stars from other companies were making in comparison to him. Although there was one company he wasn’t concerned with.

“I’m just saying that I saw what a lot of top guys were making all across the board, except I don’t pay attention to New Japan,” MJF said. “It’s a garbage promotion, dogsht, and the fact that people still talk about it like it’s a thing is hilarious to me, whatever. [Kazuchika] Okada No. 2? Is that what is was with PWI 500? I don’t think I’ve heard that guy’s name since 2014. Who gives a shit?”

MJF made it quite clear that he’s open to speaking with any promotion as long as they open up the checkbook, except for NJPW. He did, however, mention that he’s a fan of Great-O-Khan. MJF’s AEW contract is set to expire in 2022.

Swerve Strickland signed with AEW last March, debuting at the Revolution pay-per-view. Just a few weeks before, Keith Lee would also join the company, and eventually the two would pair up to become the tag team Swerve In Our Glory. They would capture the AEW World Tag Team Championship at “Dynamite” Fyter Fest: Night 1 until being dethroned by The Acclaimed at “Dynamite” Grand Slam. And with a newfound respect for tag team wrestling, Strickland would praise AEW for making it a “regularly featured piece of the puzzle” on the podcast “Under The Ring: Pro Wrestling Conversations.” 

“It’s something that is providing a service that not a lot of other wrestling promotions on television can do in the way that we do it,” he explained. “And I felt that’s what makes our product so special.”

While Strickland stressed that he was not faulting other wrestling operations for their approach to tag team wrestling – “That’s great for them because that’s what worked for them” – he had all the love in the world for AEW doing things differently.

“I feel like the tag team wrestling is one of the big things that pulled audiences from other fan bases to come watch us because we were doing tag team wrestling in such a different way,” said Strickland, noting how, in AEW, audiences will see “two top single stars who are two former AEW World Champions, as tag teams and tag team champions.”

“Kenny Omega and Adam Page set the mark for tag team wrestling in AEW,” he continued. “That’s very different and very unique, and I feel like that’s what drew a lot of people to AEW in the first place.”

Strickland added that Swerve In Our Glory’s match with The Acclaimed at All Out marked the first time that two African-American teams fought for the AEW Tag Team Championship at a pay-per-view event.

“That’s the level of putting tag team wrestling further, in another sense,” he said, remarking how that match offered “different variations and different unique ways to present tag team wrestling to our audience, who’s always been watching and following us for that.”