Man Out of Time: Chris Evans’ Future as Captain America

Chris Evans has been the cause of major controversy among fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in recent years due to statements he made about quitting acting in favor of directing. After the success of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, this has put many true believers into a panic over the future of the character and led to many jumping to conclusions that Steve Rogers will die sooner than later and the winter soldier or the falcon will take up the shield and star spangled uniform.

Before we jump to conclusions, lets examine what we actually know about the situation.

  • Chris Evans’ contract with Marvel includes a total of 6 movies, not including his cameo in Thor: The Dark World.
  • Evans has already met his contractual agreement for 3 of those 6 films. He finished filming the 4th one, Avengers 2 which is in theaters this May.
  • Captain America 3 is on the docket for 2016
  • It is well documented that Evans is not a fan of the grueling training routine, and was reluctant to play Cap in the first place, refusing a 9 film contract, and requiring convincing by Robert Downey Jr.
  • Sebastian Stan has signed a 9 movie contract, and many believe he is next in line to be cap.
  • Evans stated in an interview that he would like to quit acting in favor of directing

So the evidence is great, but take it with a grain of salt, everyone is asked to sign long contracts just in case, so a 9 movie deal for Sebastian Stan is not an indicator of intent. Additionally, actors have been known to make public statements as pre-negotiation tactics in order to get more money which was  likely the case with fellow Avengers’ star Robert Downey Jr. who became the highest paid actor in the world after publicly stating that he did not want to do Iron Man 3. Renegotiations are common after successful movies such as Winter Soldier. We’ve seen it recently with Guardians of the Galaxy star Dave Bautista who renegotiated his contract for more movies, higher pay, and a prominent roll in Avengers 3 after GotG’s success this summer.

Even more compelling, Evans clarified in a later interview that he would like to continue to play Captain America, but quit acting in non-Marvel films in favor of directing

Even more recently, he has stated his love for playing the character and resistance to his shield being taken from him. His devotion to the character has been backed up by Captain America: the Winter Soldier directors, the Russo Brothers, who caution fans about jumping to conclusions.

Will we see Rogers’ die and pass the shield on to the winter soldier or falcon? Possibly. But it may not be as soon as you think. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is still quite young and has plenty of places to go for character development.

Robert Downey Jr. is not getting any younger and when he hangs up his Iron suit, Marvel might make someone else the highest paid actor in the world? Could that be Chris Evans?

That depends on how well Age of Ultron, and Captain America 3 does. If he brings in billions for Marvel the way RDJ does, Marvel may begin construction of a money pipeline directly to the Evans’ residence to keep him around.

How lame is that? Mascots in professional hockey

The Dallas Stars in recent years have become one of the more exciting up and coming franchises as they have seen new ownership, a new general manager, head coach, color scheme, logo, uniform, and a completely retooled line-up that saw the Stars return to the post season for the first time since 2008 with only one player on the roster from that 2008 team. They are gaining traction as the twitter world and hockey blogger communities sweetheart and generally believed to be returning to the glorious team they were in the mid to late 90’s. But they are missing one key component to become a true NHL power house, and I’m not talking about a #1 defenseman.

What the team that brought ice-girls to the hockey world sorely lacks is a horribly cheesy, cringe-worthy mascot.

But it appears that is about to change. The winners of the 2014 off-season are poised to introduce their first ever mascot, and all we know is that it will have over sized sneakers to walk on and a cowboy-boot-hockey-skate-hybrid for on the ice.

So how does a team like the Stars come up with a mascot? Let’s take a look at some of the best and worst that the NHL has to offer, and see what the stars can learn from them.

Before we start, can we all agree that the Montreal Canadians win the greatest mascot of all times with Youppi! He is a furry guy, his name is the french word for Yippee!, he has an exclamation point in his name and his jersey number is also an exclamation point! It does not get any better than that.

The runner up is obviously Wild Wing of the Anaheim Ducks, but they really had an unfair advantage as a Disney originated sporting franchise. Disney has a history of successful mascots, and the Ducks were able to pluck theirs directly out of the Mighty Ducks cartoon that is based off of Disney’s the mighty ducks movie.

But the stars do not have a disney cartoon to draw from, and the glory of Youppi! cannot be replicated. Additionally, it is not as easy for the Stars as it is for a team like the penguins, who obviously made their mascot a penguin, and the coyotes understandably have a coyote.

The following is a list of do’s and don’ts for selecting a mascot

DO

  • Crawl into the crevasse, the cheesier the better, embrace it. See Harvey the Hound
  • Draw upon your teams name-sake. See SJ Sharkey
  • Draw upon your city or states culture. See Gnash the saber tooth tiger drawing upon the first archaeologically excavated cave site in America which is near Nashville.

DON’T

  • Make your mascot a bear if you are not the bruins. See St. Louis, Toronto
  • Change your mascot to a St. Bernard when you have a perfectly good Yeti a la Colorado
  • Have your mascot be a green colored bee when your team is called the blue jackets
  • Anthropomorphize a whale. Hartford did it perfectly the first time. There can be only one, and his name was Pucky.

So where does this leave the stars? Obviously they need a big ugly star with boots on, a la this lovely toddler costume except with cowboy boots.

Please feel free to post your thoughts on a future Dallas Stars mascot, or who gets your vote for the best mascot in professional hockey.

*update*

The stars have selected their mascot. Victor E. Green, and from what I can discern, he’s a fuzzy green Nerds candy, with cowboy boots and hockey sticks coming out of his head. Something for everyone.

NHL EXPANSION! NHL EXPANSION! NHL EXPANSION!

Yes hockey fans, it is definitely August. As we impatiently wait for the hockey-shaped void in our lives to be filled this coming October, we eagerly jump on any piece of hockey-related news or gossip we can find. Overnight last night, the restless hockey media exploded with news about the expansion of the NHL into previously rumored markets such as Seattle, Las Vegas, Quebec City, and Toronto. Words like “done-deal” were liberally thrown around in news reports and twitter comments.

I’m sure I wasn’t alone in looking at a map and trying to redraw the conferences and divisions and come up with new playoff formats to fit the teams. I was not the only one to ask why now? And why does Kansas City get the shaft?

The problem is that nothing is official, the reporters cite sources close to the expansion markets, but until the NHL announces it, anything can happen. And as much as we would like to see an NHL team in Toronto, until it is officially announced, even if the sources are reliable, the NHL can back out. This could very well be just a case of NHL summer sensationalism.

But since it is the off-season and we already know based on the events of this summer that the Dallas Stars have won this years Stanley cup, we have nothing better to do than discuss what this new 34 team NHL would look like.

Why Expansion Would Happen

This season the NHL saw a change in the conference and divisional alignment due to complaints of teams in the eastern time zone like Detroit and Columbus playing in a conference with teams on pacific time, as well as teams like Dallas who had to travel across 2 time zones to play against teams in their own division. The new alignment however is lopsided, the eastern conference has two more teams than the west and one can easily see why the NHL would like to expand to fill that void. Adding a Seattle and Las Vegas could solve this problem.

Further more, Quebec City and Toronto could each easily support an NHL expansion team. Toronto has one, but NYC and LA both have two teams and the leafs have been awful for years and still sell out their arena months in advance. Quebec would welcome the return of NHL hockey just as Minnesota did (and hopefully not like Atlanta did). More markets means more money for the NHL, so everyone would be happy.

Why Expansion Wouldn’t Happen

            Las Vegas and Seattle are relatively unknown markets for hockey, so a team in these places could be a risk. Adding another team in Toronto and a Quebec City team out east would give us the same conference alignment problems since it is unlikely that the league could come to an agreement to move Detroit and Columbus back out west. Would the second Toronto team have to play in the WC, leading to more time-zone and travel issues, or would the Leastern Conference continue to have 2 more teams fighting for the same amount of playoff spots?

Likely Scenario

Most likely, the NHL will move ahead with the plan to expand into Seattle and Las Vegas as they have seemed highly interested in for years, and the other two destinations will get green-lit for an NHL team as soon as an existing team is in need of a change of scenery (Hello Quebec Panthers). Whether this will happen in 2016-17 is up in the air, but if I’m a betting man, my money is on Vegas getting a team by 2019.

NHL Draft Lottery: a Race to the Bottom

It’s that time of the year when hockey fans have nothing better to do but decide who will win the Stanley cup based on zero games played, wait to hear what other meaningless hiring’s the Toronto maple leafs will make in order to appear like they are addressing issues, and discuss rule changes for the next year.

For those unfamiliar with how the draft order is selected, the 14 teams that do not make the playoffs are seeded in reverse order of how many points they earned in the regular season with the worst team picking first and the best picking last. In this situation you win by losing as the worst team would have the opportunity to draft a possible franchise player who could step into an NHL role sooner rather than later.

Simple enough? That’s just the beginning. The 14 teams are then entered into a lottery, with the worse teams having better chances of winning the lottery. Before the lockout, the winner of the lottery moved up four places in the draft with all the teams that it leap-frogged moving back one position. After the lockout, the winner automatically moved to the first draft position.

But why complicate things? Many say that the best solution is the most elegant one, the worst team should pick first, end of story. They need it don’t they? The issue is that would encourage teams to tank in order to draft higher (see Mario Lemieux) and no franchises audience wants to watch a race to the bottom. It’s bad for competition and it’s bad for the NHL. This is especially necessary this coming year with Connor McDavid, who has been heralded as the next greatest hockey human, almost assured to be the first overall pick. It is easy to imagine teams losing in order to get this kid.

That is why it is no surprise that the NHL recently adjusted the draft lottery odds, lowering the odd’s of the worst four teams while raising the odd’s of the better ten. If you are the worst team in the league, you still only have 20% of a chance of getting Connor McDavid.

Below are the draft lottery odds

Non-Playoff Team
(Fewest Pts. to Most)
New Draft Lottery Odds Odds Under Former Allocation
1 20.0% 25.0%
2 13.5% 18.8%
3 11.5% 14.2%
4 9.5% 10.7%
5 8.5% 8.1%
6 7.5% 6.2%
7 6.5% 4.7%
8 6.0% 3.6%
9 5.0% 2.7%
10 3.5% 2.1%
11 3.0% 1.5%
12 2.5% 1.1%
13 2.0% 0.8%
14 1.0% 0.5%

Graph provided by NHL.com

But that’s OK, this Eichel kid is supposed to be another extraordinary player, the sabers would at least get him if someone else leapfrogs them in the standings, right? Well actually, the league also announced that there would be a lottery for the top three overall spots rather than just the first. So you can be monumentally awful and only pick fourth overall.

But is it enough? If the team that just comes up short of being the worst in the league in 2014-15 (NY Islanders) wins the first overall pick in the lottery, the odds that the worst team (Buffalo) wins the lottery for second pick increase. It is highly unlikely that they continue to fall.

I think there is a simpler solution that encourages teams to try to win while also giving an edge to the worse teams to win the lottery. You have 14 teams, the one with the best record should get one entry into the draft, the second best would then get two entries, and so on and so forth. This would leave the worst team with fourteen entries and a much lower advantage over its closest competition. The lottery should not be just for the first overall pick, or an arbitrarily assigned number of picks like three, but for every pick. This would make it much more risky to tank in a season, incentivizing teams to compete every year, while also giving a slight competitive advantage to legitimately bad teams.