After the first Original Six finals in 34 years, here are six things to look for as a rejuvenated NHL heads into 2013--14
1. Are the outdoors really all that great?
Just how many al fresco games does the NHL need? The Winter Classic has been a hit with players and fans alike—and a revenue bonanza for the league—but will next year's spate of six outdoor games (including one at Dodger Stadium between the Kings and the Ducks on Jan. 25) dilute the novelty of roofless hockey?
2. The names remain the same.
After being eliminated from the playoffs, the Rangers and the Canucks swapped coaches (and personalities), with the personable Alain Vigneault heading to New York and the combustible John Tortorella going to Vancouver. Can Vigneault unleash his new offensive stars? And can Tortorella make his new club tougher?
3. The pains of a tight-fitting cap.
What effects will the $6 million reduction in cap space per team have? Such unrestricted free agents as the Bruins' Nathan Horton and the Blackhawks' Bryan Bickell could have a hard time finding big paydays. But clubs with wiggle room—the Islanders and the Jets are two—could go on spending sprees.
4. Where do the Penguins go from here?
Pittsburgh swung for the fences—loading up with such stars as Jarome Iginla and Brenden Morrow at the trade deadline—only to come up short in the playoffs. The team's problems in goal remain unsolved, and a battered Sidney Crosby was subpar against the physical Bruins. G.M. Ray Shero has his work cut out.
5. Is Patrick Roy a Hall of Fame coach?