Friday, 7 February 2014

NHL Pre-Olympic break thoughts

Catching up on today's posts on HockeyInsideOut:

1) CJ, you're getting lots of compliments on a certain post I haven't come across, can you re-post please?  Thanks.

EDIT:  Just read it on the previous page.  Thanks for posting.

2)  Burly, re: Marcel Aubut.  I couldn't stand that clown when he was with the Nordiques, and I can't bear to hear him speak now.  Can't believe he greased his way onto the Canadian Olympic Team management somehow.  When they announced the roster for the men's hockey Team Canada, I was never so happy to have the ceremony on PVR and be able to skip over whatever he bloviated, although I worried I'd drain the batteries in the remote, he took so long, desperate to keep the spotlight on himself.  I could feel the whole country yelling at him to shut up and get off the stage.

3)  I gather we've eliminated another troll.  Good.  To just make it a little tougher, his IP address should be blocked, not just his login name.  And HIO should be more active in screening out those screechers who ruin a good conversation.  If people want to yell at cross-purposes, they should just visit TSN's site.

4)  Dunboyne, Phil C.:  Offensive linemen who are dominant are often called 'road-graders', since they clear and polish up a path for the ballcarrier.  Fullback are usually likened to bulldozers.  Either of those would do nicely, as in "Spezza struggles to corral the puck, tries to clear it down the ooooohhhh!  He was run over by a bulldozing Murray!"

5)  About Ron McLean, I think Hockey Night in Canada would be so much better off had Dave Hodge remained there.  His intellect and presence would have kept the buffoon Cherry on a short leash.  Ron McLean was sat there as a patsy, an enabler, and we ended up with Mr. Cherry kissing Doug Gilmour and Nazem Kadri on our theoretically national game of the week.  I understand that some bosses viewed Mr. Hodge's reaction to the decision to cut away from a game to go to other programming was insubordinate, but it in hindsight proved to be a terrible decision, HNIC effectively shot itself in the foot.  It's easy to fire people, but usually better to use other forms of discipline.  The CBC divested itself of a valuable employee on a point of principle, and cut off their noses to spite their face in the process.

6)  My fantasy teams are taking a beating.  First, Kris Letang's terrible news, means I have to sit him but can't really cut him, and it has a depressing effect on the points I'll reap from Evgeni Malkin, James Neal and Marc-André Fleury.  And no positive news from Marian Gaborik and Mikko Koivu, was hoping they'd be back sooner than later.

In general I don't understand the lack of recognition received by Kris Letang on HIO.  People just parrot to each other that he's not strong defensively, but whenever I watch him play, if he gets the puck he skates or passes it out of his zone in a hurry, and the other team is scrambling to get back.  To me, that's a great sign for a defenceman.  Sure, he can't crosscheck like Mark Fraser, but that's an indication of a problem with the NHL, not with Kris Letang's abilities.

If not for the surplus of right-handed defencemen, and his injuries last season and this one, I think he'd have fit right in on the Canadian Olympic Team, and thrived on the big ice.  He's a big strong mobile defenceman who knows what to do with the puck, he would have done some damage.

7)  Bad news also for Team Sweden and the Canucks, Henrik's comeback was overly optimistic, and he had to be shelved for a few more weeks.  How Martin Hanzal got away with injuring three Canucks in one game and only drew a $5000 fine is laughable.

This is where the NHL's obsession with size and defence proves suicidal.  Mr. Hanzal can't really play anymore, but he's still big, and he can "play strong defence", so he stays in the league at the expense of smaller more skilled players who can actually play the game.

Those low-grade crosschecks that Nick Kypreos adores, since they "send a message" and "let the opposing player know you're there", escalate into medium crosschecks because you have to clear the crease, and everyone wears padding nowadays right?, and we don't know where the line is drawn anymore, and now we lose Henrik Sedin because of a dumb player making a dumb play to the assent of a dumb league and its dumb commissioner.

Roger Goodell and Paul Tagliabue get it, they're doing their best to keep their stars, their quarterbacks, healthy and on the field instead of the IR, defence be darned.  David Stern knew what side his bread was buttered on, and he skewed his league toward the fans, towards scoring and artistry, toward Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, and Michael Jordan, not toward 'team defence' or coaching or 'battlers' or grinders.  He watched his league explode in size and popularity during his tenure.  Why Gary Bettman makes ice in L.A. and showcases his league when he does nothing to protect its stars is mind-boggling.

Sidney Crosby takes an after-the-whistle punch from Zdeno Chara in his first game back from a broken jaw without wearing a guard, it's clearly captured on video, and Mr. Bettman and his side-buffoon Colin Campbell don't lift a finger.  They should have thrown the book at Mr. Chara for his deliberate attempt to injure, they had all the evidence they ever needed, and a duty to protect the game's best player that dovetailed with their own selfish interests.  But no.  It's lunacy, it's awful for hockey, but the NHL prefers not to be short-sighted, it chooses to wear blinders instead.

8)  In defence of Ed Snider, NHL owners are pinching dimes to survive these days, so the Olympics are an unfair burden to them.  We have to remember that the Chicago Blackhawks, for example, have not been able to turn a profit in the nine decades they've been in existence, as Rocky Wirtz assures us.


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  2. just wanted to say i love your blog. surprised there are no comments. you have excellent insight into the game of hockey. thanks and keep it up