November 17, 2009

Why The Name On The Front Of The Jersey Doesn't Matter

Players less safe in era of salary cap, instigator penalty

I totally agree with this - most of it, anyways.

Well, except for the salary cap part. Especially since GMs were trading players like 9-year-old boys trade hockey cards long before the salary cap was implemented. For instance, when the Vancouver Canucks made it to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1994, only two or three guys were still there five years later. And that was - still is - pretty common. In fact, I would argue that the salary cap has increased the likelihood that more players will stick around instead of be shuffled away.

The part that I have a problem with - tho I also agree with to an extent - is this concept of team loyalty. Bourne argues that since players don't get to stay long with a team, they can't develop team loyalty. But he's talking about the crest on the front of the sweater as well as with teammates. And while I can see that, at the same time, that shouldn't matter.

See, I'm a big believer in the idea that it doesn't matter who's on your team, or what team you're playing for, you should always stick up for your teammates. Always. I don't care if you don't like or know the guy - if he's your teammate, that's all you need to know.

Zenon Konopka on the Tampa Bay Lightning is a great example of this kind of thinking. And NHL rookie Victor Hedman is like that, too. Maybe a guy can take care of himself, and maybe he can't, but that's not the point. The point is, your teammate is your family member - and you don't allow people to mess with your family. It's just not done. You don't have to fight to make a point about it, but you can't stand around and just let things slide, either.

And that's what being part of a team is about. It's not about winning championships, and it's not about making money. It's about family, and you want to do your best by them whenever possible. Even if you don't like or know the guy. It's as simple as that.

Now, I realize that that's a personal perspective. But the guys in any lockerroom can foster that kind of environment. If they choose to. Some either don't bother or don't think about it.

But that's a hockey culture issue, not a rule issue. The instigator penalty is exactly what's keeping guys from jumping in and taking care of dirty players. That I can agree with 100%.

Although, I'm the type of person where I'll only let something slide for so long before I have to deal with someone who's a jerk. So that wouldn't stop me much - unless, of course, the game's on the line. Then I'd get back to them another time.

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