2017-18 NHL season: A hater's guide to the Central Division

#Hockey. (Photo courtesy of Neil Kodner)

#Hockey. (Photo courtesy of Neil Kodner)

NHL back, baby!

While our main goal in these here parts is not to celebrate the return of the eternal fifth wheel of the sports landscape that is the NHL, we must acknowledge that yep, NHL back... baby! (It just sounds better with it.)

To read the first part of this hater's guide, on the Pacific Division, please head on over here.

Today? The Western Conference's Central Division, home of the goddamn Chicago Blackhawks.

But first, let's start with a great, great video from the NHL's marketing, or video, or something, department. You can't really blame them too much since NHL stars lack the necessary charisma to pull this one off but still. #MUCHEXCITE

Central Division

1. Nashville Predators

Goddamn you, Nashville. You had one freaking job, namely to skate around, through and over, whatever was necessary, Sid "The Baby Kid" Crosby and his bunch of apolitical asshole teammates in the Stanley Cup final, and eternal joy would have been ours. A Nashville Predators win would have given Our Father P.K. Subban a Stanley Cup ring, which would have been the greatest thing, even better than sliced bread, for those of us in Montreal who still don't understand how the hometown Habs could have been as shortsighted as to trade the team's most popular player and ambassador, and every time we can laugh at the callousness of these Habs we should. Instead, you lost in the Cup finals. Like morons. Fuckers.

But you know, otherwise the Nashville Predators are really a pretty great and stacked team. Fun.

2. Dallas Stars

If the Dallas Stars were the Houston Stars, we might have let up in this space, if only just a little, in light of the past few weeks, but fuck no. The formula is pretty simple for Dallas: score about a kazillion goals per game behind the play of Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, the NHL's answer to the Gronkowski brothers (and the Stars presumably traded away Jordie Benn, Jamie's brother, because he isn't enough of a goofball), all the while giving up either a kazillion-1 or a kazillion+1 goals per game. Win some, lose some, clean, rinse, repeat.

Standing behind the bench this season will be... Ken Hitchcock? God, this can't be. What is it with NHL teams bringing back ex-coaches for a second go-round when they know it didn't work the first time around? "Well you know, it was awful the first time but maybe I'll touch the stove one more time to see if it's really hot..."

No. Here is where senseless Stars fans throw their hands up and say, "But but 1999 worked well!!!!!" Sure, if you call a blatant disregard for existing rules "worked well," then sure. "If the refs don't see it, then it wasn't illegal," they say. And if you don't see me coldcocking you, then it wasn't illegal.

3. Goddamn Chicago Blackhawks

Oh, there are so. many. reasons. SO MANY REASONS to hate the Goddamn Chicago Blackhawks. They win all the time (though not so much recently, hahah losers LLLLLLLLL!). The racist logo on their (admittedly gorgeous) jerseys. Their overratedness (it's not a word, but when you run out of ways to insult the Goddamn Chicago Blackhawks you come up with new ones) and how they don't deserve to have three players on the NHL's Top 100 players ever list. Their overall blandness. Their lack of charisma. Their asshole captain and his ice bucket challenge.

But let's just mention their complete and unwavering support of Patrick Kane after he was accused of committing atrocities. Sure the case was dropped, yada yada, but you know enough about such cases... Anyway. Yeah, fuck the Goddamn Chicago Blackhawks. Change the logo.

4. St. Louis Blues

The St. Louis Blues have it all, they say: a superstar up front, a good fanbase, a (somewhat overrated) superstar on the blue line, good depth, a young goalie who maybe finally figured it out. Everything they say, so it doesn't matter if they didn't win last year because of course they'll be back. Yep, that's all true. They'll be back and they'll once again spectacularly flame out in the playoffs. And then they'll be back again and once more they'll--anyway, you get it. The Blues have it all, they say... all, except for a dang Stanley Cup ring, which is the entire reason why you put up with the rest of the shit.

Fifty years, three Stanley Cup finals from all the way back in 1968, 1969 and 1970. Welcome to Blues hockey.

5. Minnesota Wild

You want to say that the Minnesota Wild is a terrible, no good name for a hockey franchise and nine times out of 10 you'd be absolutely right in saying so. You'd just be able to go all up in somebody's grill, like "Not saying I told you so, but nah ah I told you so." But in this case? The Wild is actually a perfectly fine name for this NHL team. (Hey, here's the one thing that this sinkhole of a franchise is unique and known for: a pointless name that serves it to a tee.) The Wild is a faceless entity, and so is this team. Captain Anonymous Zach Parise has a nice smile, which is a thing I guess, but that's about all the Wild have been paying him all these millions for.

It gets cold like Minnesota, cold like Minnesota, and that's all there is to it. Take it away, Yachty.

6. Winnipeg Jets

Sorry, who? The Winni--... winni what? Jets? Are you sure that's the name? Sorry. Nope, never heard of them.

7. Colorado Avalanche

Well waddayaknow, it turns out that the part where the Colorado Avalanche won two Stanley Cups almost instantly after they were stolen from Quebec Ci--... erm, after the franchise was born when they had a handful of Hall of Famers on their roster and maybe the greatest goalie ever, well it turns out that that part is the exception, and the awfulness of the past decade is more like the norm. NO ONE could have predicted this.

Also, the Avalanche decided that they will retire Milan Hejduk's number this season. Look, we get it. Fans like to see this happen, like to look at their recent past, look down at their tummy and tell themselves "Yep, that sure is my belly button, I like that." We get it. But even for a young franchise like Colorado, is Hejduk really the guy? He's played 1,020 matches for the Avalanche, which sure, and has managed 805 points. Meh. Hejduk is just a dude, guys.

I guess what I'm saying is fuck the Avalanche. And fuck Gary Bettman too while we're at it.