December 15, 2011

Craziness: Jeremy Roenick making sense

League needs help from players to limit concussions
I'd like to know when is the respect factor is going to come back into the game.

Let me also be clear -- I wasn't the fairest hitter. I left my feet. I hit guys from behind. I had my fair share of dirty hits and cheap hits. I hit to inflict pain at times, without question. I needed that intimidation factor because of my size.

Shame on me, but it was a totally different mentality when I played the game. This game today is much faster, much stronger and more scrutinized because it is bigger business. These players are worth much more than they were when I started, and they better start adapting to the new era of the National Hockey League by respecting each other.
I've never been a big fan of Jeremy Roenick. I've never disliked him, but I've never really liked him much, either. But I do appreciate the honesty that he has here.

And he's right. The league can only do so much. At some point, it becomes about what the players can do to fix things.

Men, in particular, have a tendancy to compartmentalize their lives. Who they're with, usually, dictates how they should be and what they should be doing. If you're with your buddies, it's one thing, but if you're with your girl, it's another. That's just how many of them are.

However, it can be taken too far. In hockey, for instance, they're one way against their teammates during practice, but another way against their opponents in a game. I'm not talking about how they play, but the level of respect with which they play with.

In reality, they should be playing their opponents with the same respect they have with their teammates. I don't think that's an unrealistic thing for them to do, either. Just doing that one simple mental change would clean up the game so much that it'd almost be like night and day.

Coaches help instill that behavior in their teams - like John Tortorella with the New York Rangers and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Tortorella insists that his players play with respect. And that was very prevalent with how he dealt with Artem Anisimov after he impulsively flipped his stick around and pretended to shoot it like a rifle at the Tampa Bay Lightning net last week as a way to celebrate a shorthanded goal.

Not only has Tortorella required his players to be respectful of their opponents, but with each other as well. It wasn't just Tortorella who said something, but also Anisimov's teammates. There was an apology, and all was good.

Not all coaches require this of their players, however. In those situations, it's up to the players themselves to regulate their own actions, and to hold teammates accountable. And that is what's actually lacking in the NHL currently - players holding each other accountable.

This is also where the compartmentalization comes in. Players will often decide that everyone's accountable for themselves, and then disregard what their teammates do. They might disapprove, but they believe it isn't their place to say anything - mostly because they don't want to be responsible for someone else, or even themselves, really.

This issue applies to struggling teams, too. You worry more about yourself than the rest of your team. Your world shrinks down to just yourself. When, in reality, it's still about the team, and you're just a cog in the machine. Disregarding your team for yourself doesn't help your team.

And that's what really needs to change in the NHL. You can still be extremely competitive and play with respect; the two are not mutually exclusive. If you take care of others, then you take care of yourself - because others will be taking care of you. All anyone wants to see is a clean and competitive game, so why not play that way?

May 31, 2011

Giving Winnipeg A Lollipop Just To Shut Them Up

So Winnipeg finally got its team. Isn’t that nice? They only had to take one from another city, but hey, they got a team and that’s all that matters, right?

You know, it’s days like this that remind me how little empathy the majority of humanity has. “Who cares about Atlanta? We finally got another team!” Great. Remember what it was like when the Jets moved 15 years ago? Yeah, that’s what Atlanta’s feeling right now – not that you care. Bastards.

This whole situation pisses me off. For a variety of reasons. So, sit back, and enjoy the rant.

My first and biggest problem are the jerks who wanted this team in Winnipeg, and weren’t afraid to voice their arrogant and self-entitled opinions at the expense of slandering another – but American, so that’s okay – city. Not all of them were Canadian, and not all Canadians are like this, but the majority of those yelling for a team they felt they “deserved” (whatever that means) were Canadian. And they were bashing Atlanta, and Phoenix before them, for all they were worth.

And that annoys me the most; that Winnipeg seemingly got a team because they whined and yelled for one. It makes me think of giving into a spoiled child when they’ve been bad. Instead of telling them no, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman gave them a team to shut them up. It’s like they’re being rewarded for bad behavior, and that really grates on me.

Which is why I would’ve preferred Quebec City to get a team over Winnipeg. They’re dying to have an NHL team back as well, you know. But are they so bad-mannered about it? Nope. And yet, they probably won’t get another team for a while. If Phoenix moves in a year, I’m betting they go to another American city.

[More after the break...]

May 25, 2011

Guess I Spoke Too Soon

Group interested in luring NHL to Seattle

This is the first I've heard of this....

Putting An NHL Team In The Pacific Northwest Is Complicated

Drama-king Canucks headed to Stanley Cup Final

Well. Would you look at that. An actual NHL article written by a Seattle Times reporter. Usually, it's just AP stuff.

My friend Su, who works for the NBC affiliate in Seattle, was told yesterday that someone in the Sports department applied for media credentials for her. So, she should be attending the Stanley Cup Finals, if only in Vancouver. I can't imagine the NHL would turn down Seattle reporters when they'd love to put an NHL team in Seattle - and have wanted one there for at least 20 years now.

I actually got into a Twitter discussion about that a couple of days ago that was started by Stan Fischler, and ended up dragging in a New York Islanders blogger and a Montreal Canadiens writer (not sure if he was a blogger or a reporter). I feel like such a broken record whenever I talk about it, because no one seems to understand the situation out there - and frankly, I find that a little disturbing.

People see the location as it being a great idea, and don't bother doing any sort of research about it. Which is all well and good, I suppose. I don't expect everyone to be a geographer like me.

But, I get the sinking feeling that that's how the NHL's offices operate, too. That their own requirements are pretty sketchy when it comes to placing teams in cities. It appears to me that all they want is a willing owner and a building and that's it. So, if that's really the case, is it any wonder that teams have problems?

For once, it'd be nice if the NHL operated like any other successful business would - logically and methodically. I don't mind businesses working in the own best interests, up to a point, since that's what you have to do to be successful. But the NHL doesn't seem to do "methodical" at all, and that's upsetting since it just sets a lot of people up for failure.

So, one more time. Here are the problem with Seattle. And Portland, too, for that matter.

Seattle has no building, no one is interested in building a new one or renovating an old one, and the city doesn't seem to have anyone interested in owning and NHL team, anyways. Key Arena is so unsuitable that the local WHL team left it and built their own arena in a suburb. The reason that the NHL wants a team there has nothing to do with giving Vancouver a regional rival, but everything to do with money. Seattle would have a ton of corporate sponsorship right off the bat. And they'd be some of the biggest names in the world, too: Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks, Nintendo of America, and Boeing - just to name a few.

Portland has a building, but the anchor tenant (the Portland Trailblazers of the NBA) doesn't want the competition of another team. They were the lone major league sport in the city until a MLS team started up this year there (the Portland Timbers). Other than that, Portland has a AAA baseball team, a WHL team, and that's it. Paul Allen, who owns the Trailblazers and the Rose Garden, isn't currently interested in owning an NHL team. He was at one time, though; he was wanted to buy Hartford and move them to Seattle, but Key Arena's seating was screwed up (built around a basketball court instead of a rink), so he nowhere to put them.

Portland isn't as attractive to the NHL since they don't have the corporate names that Seattle does. Still, Nike, Columbia, and Adidas are nothing to sneeze at. It also has a smaller population than the Seattle area does by about a million people.

Got it? Good. I'd hate to have to explain it again, but I'll probably have to, anyways.

February 15, 2011

It's Not Quitting, Just Finally Moving On

Avs' Peter Forsberg retires from hockey

Good for him that he finally came to the decision that he should've years ago. And I believe that he's really done this time. In all of the other times he's left the sport, he's been very clear about his intentions of coming back. This is the first time he's actually retired, and I think he'll stay retired.

It's just too bad that he didn't play at least one game in front of the Colorado fans. I understand why he did it - he didn't want to look like a fool. Though, I saw him play a bit during his first game back last week, and I don't think he would have.

Sounds like his fiancée's a reasonable woman, and I'm very glad he listened to her. I'd thought it was his wife because he wore a ring, but I'd forgotten the tendency for Swedish men to wear engagement rings. Though, Henrik Lundqvist doesn't wear an engagement ring. But then, Vinny Lecavalier doesn't seem to wear a wedding ring, either - and most men from Canada and the US do.

My dad doesn't wear a wedding ring, either, and he's been married for almost 50 years, but that's another story entirely.

Anywho, I adore Forsberg - he's my favorite player of all time. So it was very hard to read about all of these comebacks and all of these surgeries. It has nothing to do with screwing up his legacy, and I've always wished the guy the best, but you'd think he'd come to the conclusion far sooner than after 25 surgeries (assuming those were all on his foot/ankle). How hard-headed can a guy be?

Thankfully, his fiancée has some common sense. So good for him, too, that he picked a keeper. I'm sure she had more to do with this decision than anyone else.

Again, I wish him nothing but the best, and I hope he can find some peace with his decision. I also hope that he can find some way to stay involved with hockey as well, since he obviously loves the sport so much. I know that in the past he's said that he doesn't want to be a coach - because his dad is/was - but there are other things he can do.

Maybe we'll see him back in North America again in some hockey capacity. I'm still holding out for Markus Naslund to come back. We'll see how that ends up. Forsberg will have to come back at least twice, though - once, when the Coloardo Avalanche retire his jersey number, and again when he's inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Both of which he completely deserves.

Good luck, have fun, and enjoy life, Peter. As always, it was a pleasure. And always make sure you do what makes you happy - not that I have any doubt that you will. :o)

February 11, 2011

It's Like A Bruise That People Keep Pushing On To See If It Hurts

Forsberg saga will only get more interesting
So where do other NHL teams come into the equation? Yes, Forsberg has a no-trade, no-movement clause in the $1 million pro-rated contract he signed with Colorado. But do you think he’s put in all the work to come back to the NHL to help the Avs work on a lottery pick? Clearly, he envisioned being on a playoff team.
"Interesting" is not the word I'd use with this, frankly.

Don't get me wrong. I like Forsberg and wish him nothing but the best. He's probably my all-time favorite hockey player. And I can totally identify with wanting to go out on your own terms.

But this whole scene is just ridiculous. His priorities are severely out of whack here. He should be more concerned with the quality of life he has off the ice than trying to force his body into playing hockey in the NHL again. Mind over matter doesn't always work out the way we'd hoped.

Regardless, this article has a good point. Unless Forsberg's looking to finally and officially retire at the end of the season with Colorado, he's not staying there. And I seriously doubt that he's planning on playing next season at this stage. Hoping, sure, but not planning on it. So this is a one-shot deal in his mind, I'm sure. For now, at least.

I'm saying this right now for everyone to read - it's going to be Vancouver and Tampa Bay in the Finals, with Tampa Bay winning the Cup. I'm not saying that because I write about the Lightning. To be honest, I'm still having a hard time wrapping my head around them making playoffs. And don't even ask me where they are in the standings because I'm not entire sure at the moment. So wishful thinking isn't even entering into the equation since I honestly can't even imagine playoffs right now, let alone going deep into them.

But with Steve Yzerman as GM, almost anything is possible, I guess.

Anywho, if Forsberg wants another Cup, then I think he's going to have to be traded to one of those two teams. And I'd really rather it wasn't Tampa Bay. Him on either team in mind-bendy for me, and I wouldn't put it past Yzerman to try to pick him up, but I don't think I could deal with him being a part of Tampa. That's just far too strange - so strange that I can't really put it into words right now.

Still, everyone needs to take a step back and see how he plays first. The style of the game has changed a bit since he's played in the NHL with any regularity, and he might not be able to adapt to it. Many players - and on-ice officials - haven't been able to. So we'll see how Forsberg does in a game situation first, and then maybe people can start talking about where he ends up going.

Yikes.

January 24, 2011

One Too Many Hits To The Head

Daily Debate: Will Sidney Crosby's absence diminish All-Star Game?
LeBrun: And don't forget the media game Sunday morning at RBC Center. That's always one of the big highlights of the weekend. Just kidding!
If I'd have known - or thought about it, really - that there was a media game months ago, I might've tried to get back into skating shape for that. Damn it. That could've been far too much fun. Oh well. Not as if there are any close rinks around here, anyways.

It's unfortunate that Sidney Crosby won't be in attendance. I was rather looking forward to seeing him in person and in street clothes. He is a very good looking guy, after all. And there's nothing wrong with just looking, right?

But it's definitely better for him to sit this one out. A concussion isn't something you want to mess around with. I've had a couple, so I know how that goes. Thankfully, nothing too bad, but still.

Although, the Pittsburgh Penguins are definitely at fault with this one. They never should've let him back in the game after he collided with David Steckel, let alone let him practice and play against Tampa Bay. Idiots. Thankfully, someone wised up.

January 21, 2011

When Is An Injury Caused By An Accident? Never In The NHL

Caps’ Steckel can’t duck Crosby hit
"Contrary to popular belief, I feel like it was incidental," [David] Steckel said. "I didn’t see him. I didn’t look. That’s a tough instance. To look back now and be like, 'Well, I’m going to get suspended for a head hit when I had no idea …' "
I'd have to agree with this. I didn't watch the game, but I did watch the hit. Sidney Crosby was clearly looking elsewhere when Steckel innocently clipped him. And yes, it was innocent. Steckel's listed at 6'5" while Crosby's listed at 5'11". It's completely believable that Steckel didn't see him.

Those of us who play sports, we all know how it goes. People constantly clip one another between plays when they're leaving the playing surface or repositioning themselves for the start of action. Sometimes clipping someone's deliberate - to send a message that you're keeping an eye someone, or that you're not impressed.

But most of the time, it's not at all deliberate. You might see someone out the corner of your eye, and then accidentally run into them, but you keep on going and don't think anything of it. It happens all the time, and the Steckel-Crosby thing was just another instance of that. It just ended up being a freak accident because of the height difference.

Crosby was clearly concussed because of that collision. The guy could barely stand immediately afterwards, and I've seen him take harder hits - high hits - without much affect. He exacerbated it by playing against Tampa Bay. I don't think Victor Hedman's hit had anything to do with that, frankly. Though I do find it ironic that Hedman's also about the same size as Steckel - he's listed at 6'6".

So for Crosby to point fingers at others is rather ridiculous. I realize that there's this victim culture within the NHL; that's it's never the player's fault if he gets injured, but it's always the other guy's and it's always deliberate. But seriously, accidents and freak things happen all the time, especially in hockey. And that's what the Steckel hit was - an accident. Just accept that and move on.

I bet if you put together an injury matrix and lined up heights with injuries suffered, that you'd have a correlation between short guys getting injured more than the tall guys. I mean, how many high sticks has Marty St. Louis taken to the face versus Zdeno Chara? Position played would probably figure into that as well. Like goalies with groin problems versus the skaters. It'd be an interesting study, but not one that I'm sure I'd want to delve into any time soon.

January 16, 2011

When goalies come up swinging

Henrik Sticks Up For Himself in 3-2 Loss to the Canadiens

I love the idea of Hank playing feisty! He's one of my two favorite goalies currently playing in the NHL - it's tied between him, Henrik Lundqvist, and Antero Niittymaki. After them, the list falls off rather sharply. I'm going to have to go find me some video of that now.

I do have to question where his defensemen were in all of this, though. Having been a defenseman myself, I know that I'd get a little upset if anyone so much as breathed on my goalie the wrong way. Yes, I'm the fiercely protective sort that way. While it's great that Lundqvist stood up for himself, I'm wondering why his defensemen let so much go that he felt that he had to.