Monthly Archives: September 2013

Phil Kessel’s suspension sends the wrong message

A lot has been made of the recent Leafs-Sabres line brawl. It had it all, from John Scott jumping Phil Kessel, to a goalie fight between Ryan Miller and Jonathan Bernier, to David Clarkson’s automatic 10-game suspension for leaving the bench to fight. When all the dust had settled, Kessel was suspended for the last three pre-season games for his battle axe attack on John Scott’s legs.

When 6’8″ tough guy Scott jumped 6’0″ sniper Kessel, the much smaller Maple Leaf made a relatively sane decision not to drop the gloves and try to fight. Instead, he made the controversial decision to use his stick as an axe, swinging wildly at Scott’s leg pads. He took several good swings, even after Scott had started fighting another Leaf coming to Kessel’s aid. On top of all this, when tempers began to cool back down, Kessel took the time to pick up his gloves and stick to then purposely antagonize Scott by spearing him.

The NHL’s decision to suspend Kessel for pre-season games goes against a couple of things that the NHL is trying to fix. First of all, Kessel does not miss any “meaningful” games. He does not lose any pay, nor does his team lose having him in important regular season games. A pre-season suspension has very little impact on the player or the team, both of whom should be disciplined for a player’s infractions. It doesn’t financially or otherwise penalize the player, nor does it send a strong message to either parties. Instead, the NHL should suspend the player for regular season games, however not as many as if it were pre-season games. In Kessel’s case, a 1 to 2 game suspension would have been adequate. By him missing regular season games, he is leaving his team mates without his services, something that would make the offending player feel like he is letting his team down due to his actions and suspension. What lesson is Kessel learning by missing meaningless games, some of which he would not have been in the line up in the first place? If the NHL wants to punish a player, PUNISH them. Don’t give out pre-season suspensions that mean nothing to the team or the player.

Second of all, the NHL is working very hard to promote attendance to pre-season games. Suspending superstars for pre-season games can only hurt attendance statistics, especially since roughly half the players in those games are not going to start the season in the NHL. Everybody saw the picture of the Florida Panthers’ pre-season game, where there more players than fans. If the NHL is trying to get people to go to pre-season games, having the “main attractions” suspended and out of the line up only hinders these attempts. It is very clear that there are several teams that are struggling to fill their arenas, and having superstars out of the line up won’t get any more butts in those seats. Pre-season games are even more difficult to sell to on-the-fence fans, given that they mean nothing in the standings. These games hold no real value except for getting players into game shape, so “robbing” a player of pre_season games through suspension is not worth the sacrifice of losing the fans that would come out to watch them play.

There is no doubt that Kessel’s second slash was excessive and warranted discipline. Regardless of the circumstances, using a stick like an axe is unacceptable. By being suspended for pre-season games, the NHL is basically giving both Kessel and the Maple Leafs a slap on the wrist. They may as well not have suspended him at all, since it would of had a similar impact. The NHL should focus on making better disciplinary decisions, starting with getting rid of pre-season suspensions. They are irrelevant and they can only hurt attendance records, something that several teams need to improve drastically.

NHL Summer Summary

Today is a wonderful day. Training camps are officially OPEN! That means hockey is only a few weeks away, and it couldn’t come any sooner.

With this being a day to celebrate, I thought it would be the perfect time to write up a summary of all the NHL stories from the summer. I don’t want to simply regurgitate what you’ve heard over and over again all summer, so I’m going to do my best to put my own little twist on all the stories. Attempts at humour will be made, but there is not guarantee of success. Enjoy!

Kovalchuk “retires”, but finds a new job in KHL

Well, this was unexpected.

Kovalchuk surprised everyone when he announced that he was retiring from the NHL. What was far less surprising was when it was announced a few days later that he had signed with a team in the KHL. Many Russian players during the lockout made it clear that leaving the NHL for the KHL is never out of the question When the possibility of NHL players participating in the Sochi Olympics was in question the tension between the NHL and their Russian players only grew. Kovalchuk is not the first to leave the NHL to return home, and he definitely won’t be the last.

To be honest, I don’t necessarily blame the guy. I’m thinking about it in this context: I get offered a great job in…China, for argument’s sake. Although I am making good money at a job I enjoy, I am away from home for almost the entire, year, except for vacations. I’ve been working at this job for over a decade, when a similar job becomes available in my home country. I miss home. I want to be with my family in my home country. Although China has been very accommodating, it will never be the country I call home. Even though I have a contract with the business in China, I decide to breach the contract and head home.

The only true issue I have with his decision is the timing of it. With his announcement coming once free agent frenzy had come and gone, the Devils were then left out to dry. They have lost their superstar, with very little chance of replacing hime. If Kovalchuk had announced his intentions earlier, the Devils could have at least made a splash to try and replace him. Now Kovalchuk is gone, and the free agent well has run almost dry. Maybe there were reasons for the timing, I really don’t know. But I don’t blame Kovalchuk for wanting to go home, where his heart is. I don’t agree with how he went about returning home, but I don’t blame him for doing so.

Canucks finally trade a goalie, but mix up names and accidentally trade Schneider

I think Mike Gillis is trying to make a bid to become the most unorthodox General Manager of all time.

Gillis had a rare opportunity that all general managers would love to have: two stellar goaltenders. It’s the type of conundrum teams would love to have, because no matter who you trade, you have a solid number one to take over for good. And somehow, Gillis managed to make the situation a complete nightmare for everyone involved.

After openly stating that the Canucks were “listening to offers” for Roberto Luongo and his massive contract, Gillis was unable to move the expensive netminder. Draft day comes around, and out of almost nowhere Gillis trades Schneider to the Devils for their first-round draft pick. Not only that, Gillis had the audacity to say that his intention was always to develop Schneider into a trade-able asset.

Imagine how awkward things between Gillis and Luongo will be from now on. “Hey Roberto, ol’ buddy ol’ pal. Remember that whole ‘we’re trying to trade you’ thing? Well…you just got PUNK’D! C’mon man, you know you’ll always be my number one guy, right? It’s not that I couldn’t get anyone to take your massive contract or anything. I was just playing mind games with the other GMs. C’mon buddy…”

Luongo has barely spoken to the media since the trade, and to be honest I can understand why. A few members of the hockey media think he’s being a big drama queen. If my team just spent the better part of a year trying to trade and then suddenly turn around and call me their number one man, I’d feel pretty skeptical about the whole thing.

It’s going to be very interesting to see how this whole thing turns out in Vancouver. No matter how long it goes on, there will always be the “what if we kept Schneider” theories. Being from Montreal, I am constantly hearing the comparisons Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak. Some people still think the Canadiens traded the wrong guy, and others think they could have gotten more for Halak. Vancouver fans, expect a few years of those same conversations.

Iginla signs with Boston, redefines the meaning of the word ‘irony’

And so the plot thickens.

This is the only proper to ending to what has been a half-year saga with Iginla. The story could have easily ended when Iginla’s Penguins were swept by the Bruins, the very team he turned his back on, and many fans would have been satisfied with the weird ways of the Hockey Gods. When free agency came around, Iginla decided to shock everyone by signing with the Bruins. That could have been a season finale’s cliff hanger on a TV show.

To be serious for a second, I do think that Iginla will fit in very nicely with the Bruins. These guys are professionals, and I would be shocked if any of the Bruins players felt any animosity towards Iginla. He made a decision, and that’s that. No hard feelings. I’m excited to see Iglina in the Black and Gold. If my math is correct, the Bruins became 12.6% more likeable after Iginla signed with the team. Let’s be honest, no one can hate this guy. He is just too nice.

Horton wants out of spotlight, decides on Columbus, since Delaware doesn’t have a team

I’ll admit, I’ve never been to Delaware. This is more of a tribute to Wayne’s World and their first experiences with the green screen. “Or imagine being magically swept away to….Delaware. … Hi. …. I’m in Delaware…”

I like what Columbus has done in the last few off seasons. They’ve been able to slowly but surely add pieces to their puzzle, and they are becoming a force to be reckoned with. They now have a Vezina-winning goaltender, a few solid defensemen, and some great players in return from the Rick Nash trade. They now add Horton, a proven, gritty goal scorer. Although I don’t think the team will be winning any cups in the next few years, I wouldn’t be surprised if they make the playoffs. Let’s not forget, they’re now in the Eastern Conference. That means they have to battle with teams like Buffalo, Florida and Carolina. They’re odds are definitely turning in their favour, however they still can’t manage to escape the wrath of the Red Wings. Trust me, they are going to be a force to reckon with this year.

Montreal signs epic moustache, man behind it can also fight

George Parros has some of the best facial hair in the business. I honestly believe his mustache may be more popular than his hockey skills! There are theories that Parros is the great-grandson of the “overly manly-man” meme (internet people will understand). If the Canadiens’ goal was to add toughness to their lineup, they succeeded in picking up the ‘Stache. Adding Danny Briere is a step backwards in terms of getting bigger, however Briere is no wuss. He is gritty, he battles in the corners, and he scores the ugly goals. Although the Canadiens are still going to be one of the smaller teams in the league, I don’t think they’re going to be pushed around and bullied like they have been in years past. I believe that last year’s playoff humiliation by the Senators was a big wake up call to the “Habitants”. We’ll see how tough they are on opening night against the Maple Leafs, a team that is quickly becoming a very physical opponent.

ESPN shows 7 seconds of Stanley Cup Parade after covering what Lebron James had for breakfast

He had eggs. They were sunny side up, and they were delicious,

Chicago thanks Bolland for Stanley Cup winning goal with an all expenses paid vacation to Toronto… for a whole season

Although it wasn’t exactly the firesale the Blackhawks were forced to go through after their Stanley Cup win in 2010, this was as close second.

In 2010, the Blackhawks were forced to let go many of the key components in the Stanley Cup victory due to salary cap restraints, and they were not exactly the same team at the beginning of the next season. Only days after scoring the Stanley Cup winning goal, Bolland was traded to the Maple Leafs. I’m sure Bolland is happy to be joining his hometown team, which is in the middle of becoming a semi-decent contender. However, I find this a strange way to show your thanks to a player who had played an important energy role for the team, during both the regular and post season.

Alfredsson leaves Ottawa, signs with Swedish Elite League Detroit Red Wings

It is going to be extremely odd to see Alfredsson in anything but a Senators jersey. Many people think that Alfredsson should have stayed an retired as a Senator, however I don’t think he owes the team anything. He has fulfilled his contractual obligations, and the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement for a new contract. He signed a good deal with the Red Wings, who are quickly becoming the practice squad for the Swedish Olympic Team. Alfie has always been one of the classiest guys in the league, and I don’t think anyone deserves to look down on him for signing with a different team. He gave the Senators 110% while he was there, and that’s all you can ask for from a player, nothing more.

Florida does absolutely nothing, prepares for next year’s first overall draft pick

Last year, Columbus were at the bottom of every hockey joke and every expert’s season predictions. The Florida Panthers are the new Blue Jackets. They did nothing in this year’s off season, besides attend the draft. They’re “big signing” in the off season? Scott Gomez. I’m fairly confident that Florida’s management has accepted that they have to rebuild. I’m just not sure that they know they still have to play all 82 games this season to qualify for the draft.

Vigneault and Tortorella star in special episode of “Trading Places”, but plot twist is they never switch back

I found this story to be particularly amusing. I’ve never seen a literal coach switch, and they might as well have simply written it up as a trade instead of separate hirings and firings. I do think that both coaches are going to excel in their new cities. They’re both proven coaches who know how to string together wins. Torts coached his team to a Stanley Cup Championship, and Vigneault was one win away from winning his own. I think Tortorella is going to give the Canucks the kick in the behind they need, and make sure they become a defense-first, fight for the win kind of team. Although incredibly talented, their superstars were easily pushed off their game in the past. Tortorella is going to make sure this team doesn’t get bossed around, which is what they need.

As for Vigneault, I think he’s just happy to be coaching a team that has a clear number one goalie!