Sunday, 8 February 2015

Dustin Byfuglien-Evander Kane faceoff latest in a long line of instances of teams policing themselves.

There's been some discussion about the rift in the Winnipeg Jets' dressing room, with Dustin Byfuglien taking it upon himself to throw Evander Kane's offending sweatsuit in the showers.  I think it’s missing the mark a little bit to call his actions childish. Teams police themselves in different ways.

Terrell Owens was such a divisive force in the Eagles locker room that Hugh Douglas tried to take him on in a fight. Reportedly, Mr. Owens took the time to go to his locker to don shoes, for traction on a slippery floor, and then jumped Hugh Douglas and gave the bigger player all he could handle. That wound festered until he was suspended and eventually evicted from the Eagles. A few Eagles commented that Hugh Douglas not being able to put Terrell ‘in his place’ doomed any chance of the situation being salvaged.

A few seasons back, P.K. Subban showed up late-ish for the first practice of training camp, and got on the ice a few minutes after everyone else did. Brian Gionta aimed a slapshot in his direction that boomed off the boards, and barked at him: “You’re late!” P.K. apparently retorted that he kind of had to go to the bathroom, but that wasn’t acceptable. Obviously, if your arrival at the rink is so close to practice time that a visit to the throne makes you late, then you need to revisit your time appreciation.

Recently while we were feting his jersey retirement, we learned that Guy Lapointe made it a habit of cutting the laces off the skates of teammates who were cutting it too close to practice time, with the intent that the extra time needed to re-lace the skates would put the offender definitely over time. Apparently Scotty Bowman would look the other way when the sheepish player slinked onto the ice, letting his veterans police this matter.

I had a similar experience in a long-term training situation, with a bunch of guys cooped up for too long, and a controversial class member who was like sand in the gearbox. Late in the session we were out for beers, and someone took the guy’s Russian-mobster-style warmup jacket and tried to flush it down the Legion Hall’s toilet. The look on the manager’s face as he brought out the jacket, and the jacket’s owner when he understood what happened, were unforgettable. The message got through to him.

So yeah, we can say that Dustin Byfuglien should have talked to Evander Kane instead of soaking his clothes, but I’m sure a few guys tried that, and it was time to step it up a notch. The message to him would have been clear. It’s not just the coaches and management and the fans and the press that have had it, it’s your own teammates. And obviously, that stung him pretty bad.

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