As the National Hockey League season gets under way Thursday, we look at five more storylines involving players with Madison and University of Wisconsin ties.
1. What will be Blake Geoffrion's role with Nashville and Milwaukee?
Geoffrion's profile spiked last April, when the UW senior and co-captain became the school's first Hobey Baker winner. Geoffrion (5) will begin this year where finished last season, as a fan favorite and public relations dream with the Milwaukee Admirals. The question is, when will Nashville will decide to promote the Tennessee native to the big club alongside another former Badger, Madison native Ryan Suter? With a style well-suited for the NHL, Geoffrion is likely to stick with the Predators when that occurs.
2. Is Jamie McBain a Calder Trophy candidate?
Carolina's dismal 2009-10 campaign featured few bright spots, but the defenseman's late-season play represented a flicker of hope. A former Hobey Baker Award finalist and first-team All-American at UW, McBain (left) contributed 10 points in 14 games as a rookie and filled the void as the two-way defenseman Carolina was missing all year long. If McBain continues that torrid pace while playing a full slate of games, he will be a strong contender for the NHL's rookie of the year honors.
3. Can Tom Gilbert rebound?
After two straight seasons of improvement, Tom Gilbert's production followed the same trajectory as the Edmonton Oilers' fortunes during a disastrous 2009-10 season. The Oilers have remade themselves, evolving into younger and faster club, which vaults the 27-year-old Gilbert (below, right) into veteran status and a leadership role. Despite the extra responsibility, Gilbert should get back on track with the up-and-coming Oilers.
4. Will Brian Elliott cement his status as Ottawa's No. 1 goaltender?
At the end of last season, it was clear that Elliott (left) had become the Senators' top backstop, both in part to his solid play — he racked up 29 wins and a 2.57 goals-against average — and the injury struggles of incumbent starter Pascal Leclaire. But Elliott's playoff struggles (one win and a 4.14 GAA) left the door wide open for Leclaire to retake his job. The wildcard in Ottawa's net this season is former Wisconsin recruit Mike Brodeur, who — if given a chance — has the potential to take the starting job away from both Elliott and Leclaire.
5. Was 2009-2010 finally the last season for Chris Chelios?
After 26 seasons, 1,651 games, 948 points and three Stanley Cup trophies, the 48-year-old Chelios (right) finally retired following an undistinguished final season with the Atlanta Thrashers in which he played just seven games and recorded no points. Chelios' decision to hang up the skates was made easier when the Detroit Red Wings offered him a front office job. But you have to wonder, if injuries again become a problem with the Red Wings, will the always-in-great-shape Chelios decide to suit up one more time?