What We Learned: NHL Guardian Project is the worst thing ever

Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend's events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.

Look, man. I get it.

I get that the NHL is by far the most "niche" of the four major North American sports, and that the league has to occasionally resort to some odd, offbeat tactics -- like the Winter Classic and HBO 24/7 -- to drum up interest.

But this Guardian Project the League is running? It's just about the most inane, and least comprehensible, thing the NHL has done to trick people into watching a Wild game yet.

Not that I don't see the motivation on the league's part. Morons flock to the movies to see "Iron Man 2" and "Spider-Man 3" and didn't care that they sucked. America Loves Super Heroes. This is irrefutable fact. And yet, even if we are to ignore that the basic tenet of this League should be to promote the PLAYERS as being superhuman -- since they are -- this is still a misguided, poorly executed gong show of a promotion.

(Coming Up: Brodeur happy with the hook; Teemu rules; Buff for MVP; Zidlicky could be done; the T-Shirt Blues; one photo explains the Battle of Ontario; Nicklas Lidstrom(notes) is quite good; Dwayne Roloson(notes) heads to Tampa; Steckel's head shot on Sidney Crosby(notes); and epic fight; and the Wiz is happy to be done with Long Island, but does Tavares want out too?)

So far, two of these Guardians have been unveiled: the imaginatively-named protectors of the Penguins ("The Penguin") and Kings ("The King"). I wish that I were making these monikers up, but I'm not.

The Penguin's super powers include the ability to fire ice missiles and look, as Greg pointed out the other day, suspiciously like Cyclops from the X-Men. The King has a force field and carries a shield. I'm not sure why he would need both of those things.

If you really want a laugh, check out the project's Twitter page, which is chock full of information you never wanted to see, or indeed, imagine. "The Duck Guardian is described as 'Rebel with a trust fund.'" I don't even know what that means! Ducks, stereotypically, don't have trust funds as far as I know. And what could one rebel against? Eating bread quietly next to a park bench?

Also, the Coyote Guardian is, and I quote, "a mysterious drifter of the American desert." Boy if that doesn't just conjure up some unpleasant images.

Now, I know, I know, this isn't aimed at me. It's aimed at children, who are idiots, and adults who like comic books, who are worse. And according to some stuff I read about this whole fiasco, there are plans for a comic book, a novel (because who wouldn't want to read this?!), a TV show and a movie. I can't tell which is a worse idea, but currently I'm leaning toward the film.

When "X-Men 3" came out every review basically said, "There are too many mutants now, who can keep track of who they are and their motivations?"

Well, the NHL is about to flip the script so hard, with 30 freaking Guardians, that they can only possibly hope it will flop back around to coherence. And, knowing the league as we all do, you know it'll feature WAY too much of The Penguin (unfortunately, no umbrella and monocle) and oddly ignore The Star and the Canuck no matter how good they are.

Also, it will likely gross 2.1 hundred dollars.

How much money do you think they paid Stan Lee for this? Couple hundred grand, easy, right? Judging by the quote-unquote quality of the two Guardians the league has unveiled so far, he literally ran each team's name through Wikipedia, found out one fact about them ("The Flame can be made of fire, eh?") and passed it off to some intern to sketch up and send to the League for approval.

Oh and don't worry, guys. There will be villains for these Guardians to protect... something... from. While none have yet been named, one has to suspect General Disinterest, Overexpansion Master and Dr. AnyonewholooksatSidCrosbythewrongway will comprise at least part of the daunting rogues' gallery our dear Guardians will have to overcome.

All the Guardians will finally be unveiled at the All-Star Game, and so I have a proposal: Let's all go vote for Chris Pronger(notes) 80 or 90 times each and find out if any of these characters' Kryptonite is getting elbowed in the face.

What We Learned

Anaheim Ducks: With Corey Perry(notes) on pace for a 40-goal, 86-point season, he's probably going to be an All-Star. But y'know who's having a helluva year despite being a million years old? Teemu Selanne(notes). Still playing at better than a point a game. That rules. Teemu rules.

Atlanta Thrashers: Here's over 1,000 words on who should be the Thrashers' MVP for the first half of the season. I'll answer it in two: Dustin Byfuglien(notes). Easy.

Boston Bruins: Not a good night for goaltenders in Buffalo, as Tim Thomas(notes), Tuukka Rask(notes) and Ryan Miller(notes) combined to allow 12 goals on 75 shots, then allowed goals on every attempt in the shootout except for when Zdeno Chara(notes) missed the net.

Buffalo Sabres: Drew Stafford(notes) with the latest hattie this year.

Since coming back from injury, he's got seven goals in eight games. Pretty good.

Calgary Flames: Lookit this handsy little goal from... Tim Jackman(notes)? Okay sure.

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Carolina Hurricanes: No Jussi Jokinen(notes) or Joni Pitkanen(notes) once again for the 'Canes tonight, but only because the team is taking it easy with them. Hasn't hurt that this latest stretch of games came against the Leafs, Sens, Devs and Panthers either.

Chicago Blackhawks: The Blachhawks signed Minnesota-Duluth defenseman Dylan Olsen, their 2009 first-round pick, mid-season because he's been so outstanding at World Juniors, especially for a Canadian.

Colorado Avalanche: The Avs are built for speed now and in the future. Currently, their fastest skater is Matt Hunwick(notes), who can get around a whole rink in about 13 seconds. Which is crazy.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Jakub Voracek(notes) is apparently very important to the team. They're 15-2-1 when he has a point this season, and 5-13-2 when he doesn't. So maybe I'm no coach or anything, but maybe Scott Arniel should get him to score more often.

Dallas Stars: Kari Lehtonen(notes) had allowed 10 goals in his last two games, which is a pretty big departure from his usual play to this point. It took him five games to allow his previous 10. 'Course, he lost all but two of those, so that's not good either way.

Detroit Red Wings: This just in: Nicklas Lidstrom is a good defenseman. Chris Osgood(notes) says best ever, but he's wrong about that. Still, to be in the Norris conversation at 40 years old is pretty remarkable.

Edmonton Oilers: Hey remember that opening night beatdown the Oilers gave the Flames? Yeah, that was the only time they've beaten them in the last 11 tries. Said Tom Renney of the latest loss, " Some guys didn't make it to the rink." Worse, Jordan Eberle(notes) went down with an ankle injury and the Oil have now lost six in a row. But that lottery pick is gonna really make them feel good about themselves in June.

Florida Panthers: Steve Reinprecht cleared waivers over the weekend and now the Panthers are actively shopping him. Anyone wanna trade a forward FLORIDA doesn't have room for, who's signed for next season as well, at $2.05 million? No? Really?

Los Angeles Kings: The Kings have now dropped three straight, allowing 14 goals in the process and scoring just seven. I'm not sure how much playing Chicago tonight is going to help matters.

Minnesota Wild: Marek Zidlicky(notes) has a bum shoulder and could miss the rest of the season. Best-case scenario, he misses a month. By my count, that's two guys on the Wild done for the year.

Montreal Canadiens: Think James Wisniewski(notes) was happy to get off the Island? Two goals, including the overtime game-winner, in his first game as a Hab.

Something to keep in mind watching this highlight: This was a road game for Montreal.

Nashville Predators: It might not be a good January for the Preds. They're on the road for 10 of 13 games, and they're only 10-9-1 away from Nashville this year. This is make-or-break stuff for them.

New Jersey Devils: Marty Brodeur was happy to get the hook on Friday against Carolina after giving up three on seven shots. Currently, his save percentage is .882. That's 50th in the league, behind both Dan Ellis(notes) and Mike Smith(notes).

New York Islanders: There were apparently rumors that John Tavares(notes) wanted off the Island just like all the other half-decent players they're about to start trading (or already have). But it's hogwash, says his agent. "John's focus is on staying an Islander for a long time and helping them win. John believes in what the Islanders are doing." Ohhhh jeez, Johnny. I have some bad news for you...

New York Rangers: "Are we satisfied? I hope we're not, because, as I've said, this is going to get tougher and tougher," said John Tortorella soon after his team allowed a goal 19 seconds into overtime after tying it up inside a minute to go. Counterpoint by Henrik Lundqvist(notes): "When you tie a game that late, you have to be happy about the point."

Ottawa Senators: If ever a picture perfectly summed up a game, it's this one right here.

The Sens got throttled at home by the Leafs, 5-1.

Philadelphia Flyers: It's Jan. 3 and Philly still doesn't have a No. 1 goalie. They're currently carrying all of Brian Boucher(notes), Sergei Bobrovsky(notes) and Michael Leighton(notes), and none have started two games in a row since Bobrovsky got the go on Dec. 15 and 18.

Phoenix Coyotes: Well-regarded prospect Brett MacLean(notes) was sent down Friday, after being up for his first-ever NHL game and scoring his first-ever NHL goal. Tough luck, kid.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Okay they didn't win the Winter Classic, but the Penguins don't suck any more. So that's pretty nice. (Warning: Article contains reference to first-liner Rico Fata, who most current Penguins fans either don't remember or choose to forget.)

San Jose Sharks: Saturday was Devin Setoguchi's(notes) birthday. He celebrated by scoring the only goal of the game against the Kings and by not going out on New Year's Eve. He claims he was in bed by 11:30.

St. Louis Blues: Here's a shirt no one should buy.

Tampa Bay Lightning: The best part of Dwayne Roloson getting traded to Tampa for Ty Wishart(notes) is that Wishart was the only remaining piece of the Dan Boyle(notes) trade the Bolts still controlled. What a disaster that was.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Oh yeah the Leafs have no forward depth at all so of course they're going to trade Kris Versteeg(notes).

Vancouver Canucks: Even when the Canucks are playing poorly, they back into wins. On New Year's Eve, they turned in one of their worst performances of the season and still coasted to a 4-1 W over Dallas.

Washington Capitals: Real legitimate question: Is Dave Steckel(notes) the worst person ever for accidentally colliding with Sid Crosby and knocking him a bit loopy?

In a poll of all the current NHL commissioners, the answer is a resounding "YES!"

Gold Star Award

Swiss World Junior goalie Benjamin Conz was really great this weekend despite losing both games. His team had no idea what it was doing in its defensive zone, and yet he only allowed five goals on 92 shots against the U.S. and Canada.

Minus of the Weekend

Seriously, the goaltending in the Buffalo/Boston game was just about the worst I've seen this year. Just appalling.

Play of the Weekend

Here is an absolute WAR between Krys Barch(notes) and Cam Janssen(notes).

Perfect HFBoards trade proposal of the week

User "KonaRider" is probably a Canucks fan.

Mason Raymond(notes)
Taylor Ellington(notes)


Ryan Ellis(notes)
Nashville 2011 1st. or the 2nd round pick (Jerseys at #31)


Ryan Lambert publishes hockey awesomeness rather infrequently over at The Two-Line Pass. Check it out, why don't you? Or you can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter if you so desire.

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