Preview Professor: Gold, Frankincense & Muir


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This week in California history, naturalist and preservationist John Muir passed away in Los Angeles on Christmas Eve in 1914. Born in Scotland in 1838, Muir and his family immigrated to the United States in 1849. After being temporarily blinded in an accident in a factory in Indianapolis, Muir decided to abandon that line of work and devote himself to nature. In 1868 he made his way westward, arriving in Yosemite Valley in California. It was there, amongst the sequoias, where he began his writing and advocating for the federal government to enact significant land preservationist policies.


Anaheim Ducks at New York Rangers, 4:00PM

2015-16 Season Records: ANA 12-15-5 (7th in the Pacific); NYR 19-12-4 (3rd in the Metropolitan)

Leading Scorers: Corey Perry (10G, 9A); Mats Zuccarello (14G, 14A)

The Ducks will be hoping to get exact some revenge at MSG this afternoon. Last year in their only contest in New York, they were trounced 7-2 by the Rangers. Key contributions from Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin allowed the Blueshirts to cruise over the Ducks. Hagelin netted the game winning goal in that game, but now finds himself with the Ducks as he returns to Broadway for the first time. It’s no secret that he, much like the rest of his team, have struggled to put the throttle down this year. In his previous two full seasons with the Rangers, Hagelin was generating offense at an average rate of 1.60 points per sixty minutes, but now finds his production hovering at a significantly lower clip at 1.07 P60. Much of this can be chalked up to bad luck, but after ending a thirteen game goalless streak last night against the Islanders, you’d have to imagine that Hagelin would love nothing more than to keep it going tonight as he squares off against his former squad.

Prediction: Rangers by 1

Vancouver Canucks at Tampa Bay Lightning, 4:30PM

2015-16 Season Records: VAN 12-14-9 (3rd in the Pacific); TBL 17-14-3 (6th in the Atlantic)

Leading Scorers: Daniel Sedin (15G, 20A); Steven Stamkos (14G, 11A)

Things aren’t going well for the Canucks at the moment. They are 3-5-2 in their last ten games and after losing Dan Hamhuis in a scary incident last week, it now appears that they could be without Henrik Sedin and goaltender Ryan Miller as they head into the Christmas break. Vancouver will need an all hands on deck performance tonight if they hope to eke out a win in Tampa Bay; the final matchup in a six-game road trip . Since the 2004-05 lockout, the Canucks have failed to beat the Lightning in regulation and have only won once, in a shootout, in their last five visits to the St. Pete Times Forum Tampa Bay Times Forum Amalie Arena.

Prediction: Lightning by 2

Winnipeg Jets at Calgary Flames, 6:00PM

2015-16 Season Records: WPG 15-16-2 (7th in the Central); CGY 15-16-2 (5th in the Pacific)

Leading Scorers: Blake Wheeler (10G, 24A); Johnny Gaudreau (12G, 22A)

The Calgary Flames strung together seven-game winning streak in December. File this under things I didn’t think I would be writing during the 2015-16 NHL season. But seriously, the Flames are hot at the moment, despite dropping their last two, and tonight’s meeting against the Jets marks the start of a four-game home stand for them. Another thing I didn’t think I’d be writing this season is that Chris Thorburn is now the Atlanta Thrashers Winnipeg Jets franchise leader in games played. Worth mentioning that he is also the franchise leaders in penalty minutes. It’s a huge accomplishment and a testament to his durability, as well as his ability to defy the odds and keep finding ways to want to make his coaches keep him as a fixture in the lineup. Cheers to Scoreburn!

Prediction: Jets by 1

Toronto Maple Leafs at Arizona Coyotes, 6:00PM

2015-16 Season Records: TOR 12-13-7 (8th in the Atlantic); ARI 15-15-2 (4th in the Pacific)

Leading Scorers: Leo Komarov (15G, 9A); Max Domi (10G, 15A)

Still trying to find that perfect gift for your favorite Leafs fan? Tickets to a game is always a great idea, but everybody knows how expensive it is to see a game in Toronto. If you bit the bullet and bought them tickets to next week’s home game against the Islanders, you almost would have been better off to fly them to Glendale for tonight’s game. From my home of Sudbury, Ontario (four hours north of Toronto) it would cost me $412.73 (all figures are noted in Canadian dollars) to fly to Toronto, but would cost just more than double ($1089.98) to fly to Phoenix. While you are paying more to fly to Arizona, keep in mind that you are also flying to Arizona. Using NHL Ticket Exchange you could purchase two tickets in the 100 section at Gila River Arena for a total of $292.68. Meanwhile, comparable seating in Toronto would cost you more than double at $600. Your accommodations will also run you more in Toronto, a two night stay at the Royal York would cost $363.68, whereas you could rest your head at the Extended Stay America in Peoria for $243.68. Let’s not forget all the money you’d be saving on beer if you were drinking it at Gila River instead of the Air Canada Centre, where beer can run you anywhere between $15-20 depending on the size.

So, without accounting for meals and ground transportation, it would only cost you an additional $249.93 to send your Leafs fan on a getaway to a game in Arizona rather than Toronto. Two days of desert heat instead of Canadian winter probably more than makes up for the cost differential.

Prediction: Coyotes by 1

San Jose Sharks at Los Angeles Kings, 7:30PM

2015-16 Season Records: SJS 16-15-2 (2nd in the Pacific); LAK 20-10-2 (1st in the Pacific)

Leading Scorers: Joe Pavelski (16G, 17A); Jeff Carter (11G, 16A)

This the third meeting between these division rivals and San Jose will be hoping to pull off a win and take the edge in the season series. The last time the Sharks won a season series against the Kings was in 2011-12 and we all know who ended up having the last laugh.


Heading into the holiday hiatus, the Kings are currently sitting a top a veritable mountain in the Pacific Division and with the way they have been playing, it seems as though they will preserve their positioning.

Prediction: Kings by 1

Last Minute of Play

Muir is considered to be one of North America’s earliest environmentalists and his efforts led to the establishment of Yosemite Valley National Park and Sequoia National Park, amongst others. He was also integral to the foundation of the Sierra Club and his work as a naturalist helped spawn a new genre of writing (he had penned five books at the time of his death). Unlike some of his counterparts in the United States, Muir was a staunch preservationist and his ideals about nature often brought him into conflict with others who advocated for the sustainable use of natural resource within national forests and/or reserving land for multi-purpose usage. Last year on the centenary of his death, there was much discussion about Muir’s legacy and how it may be incompatible in the twenty-first century. After all, his approach to wilderness and parklands was purely aesthetic and he believed in the existence of pristine landscapes that could only be maintained if humans were absent from these areas. Currently in California, Muir’s adopted state, the overwhelming majority of people live in urban areas and if we want them to aspire to the same level of passion for nature as Muir, the preservationist approach to inaccessible landscapes far outside their field of view is unlikely to elicit much exuberance. If we are to get the next generation of environmentalists and stewards on board, we need to get them to support and care for the nature within their cities and their own backyards. While Muir’s vision may not necessarily be easily adapted to the modern world, his commitment to the environment can transcend time and space and there is still much to be gained from his advocacy and writings.

Professor Prediction Record: 14-14


Merry Christmas from the Preview Professor! Check back in on December 29th as we explore a hilarious management moment in Kings history and the five Pacific Division teams in action that day.

Professor Mike hails from Sudbury, Ontario (4 hours north of Toronto) a place that has more Kings connections than you’d think. The city’s northern boundary reaches as far as the community of Levack, hometown of Kings great Dave Taylor. As a child, Mike once met Taylor in a gravel pit, as you can imagine, he was thoroughly impressed. He has also spent more than a few bleary-eyed nights at the Beef n Bird, a tavern founded by Justin Williams’ great uncle Jerry Toppazzini. Mike’s only wish is that one day people will call him “the Professor” with the same adoration bestowed upon Ben Scrivens. You can follow Mike Commito on Twitter @MikeCommito.