Posts Tagged ‘nhl’
The lockout has dragged 113 days and I wasn’t holding out much hope for any kind of season, shortened or otherwise. But this morning, I woke up to fresh snow outside and a shiny new agreement-in-principle that could see the NHL returning as soon as next week:
Depending on when a new CBA is reached, the league – according to TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun – has 50-game and 48-game schedules drawn up. A 50-game season would start on Jan. 15 and a 48-game season would start on Jan. 19. The existing 2012-13 NHL schedule was already canceled through Jan. 14.
Now, there are an awful lot of people — even here in hockey-mad Montreal — who are responding with “who cares?” Fed up with the labour disputes and with the bickering between millionaires and billionaires, they’ve long since declared a curse on both houses and have merrily gone about finding alternative sources of entertainment. There’s a very real question about whether the NHL can truly recover from this, and if so, how long it might take.
But I’ve missed hockey. A lot. I daresay I’m not the only one. In absense of hockey, we naturally look for other blood sports to draw our attention. The red square protests, the Charbonneau commission, the ugliest Quebec election in decades, the rekindling of the language wars… we desperately need a distraction from all of it. And if the bleu-blanc-rouge can provide one, even in a compressed season, well, I’ll take it happily.
Welcome back, hockey. Don’t do it again.
There’s nothing more depressing than a pub in late October with no hockey on the big screen.
Players, owners, settle this thing already. We need our hockey back.
By now, everyone in Montreal, Beantown and everywhere in between knows about the ugly hit by Zdeno Chara that landed Max Pacioretty in the hospital with a possible career-ending fractured vertebra and concussion:
It still hurts to re-watch. And not just because we all know the outcome.
On the hit: It was ugly, that’s unquestionable. It was illegal, that’s also unquestionable, and Chara got a game misconduct for it. It was frightening to watch, because we know how it turned out. And it was part of a high-energy, high-speed game, delivered by a guy who isn’t known for using his size to injure but certainly has it in him. And the fact that Pacioretty was having his breakout season and playing first-line solid hockey only made it that much harder of a blow to absorb.
On intent: Did Chara mean to hurt Pacioretty? He says no. I’m inclined to believe him, with a caveat: I think that, within the context of hockey, he was trying to get back at Pacioretty and this was a continuation of the feud that they had going on for a few games. In other words, I don’t think this was just an accidental check gone wrong. Since a Habs-Bruins playoff matchup is a strong possibility, I’d even allow that teams start to play dirty and there’s some intent to injure going on with good players. But it’s not the same as intent to injure, off-ice, and I’m sure that’s what has the league wringing its hands at how to mete out punishment.
On bias: Mike Murphy had to make this call because Colin Campbell was biased, what with his son Gregory playing for Boston. This isn’t the first time that Campbell has needed to recuse himself from a disciplinary decision, either. I still think he should have resigned the minute his son made it to the NHL. But it does argue that there’s too much discretion in these kinds of disciplinary decisions. Either way, the rules need to be clearer, and there can’t be so much in the hands of one man.
On criminal prosecution: Nope, don’t agree with it here. Despite the massive public pressure and outcry in the wake of the NHL’s decision not to suspend Chara (and seriously, people, tying up the 9-1-1 line for hockey? Not cool.) I don’t believe that there’s any place for criminal charges in hockey, unless the incident was outside the boundaries of the game and crossed the line to something else entirely. Trying to get the courts involved is just another way of absolving the NHL of responsibility for this kind of stuff. It happens within the parameters of the game, which makes it the NHL’s responsibility.
On violence in hockey: Is the game too violent? Is there too much fighting? Should we make them all wear bubbles and carry sticks made out of foam? Hell no. I like my hockey fast-paced, hard-hitting and tough, and I suspect most of the league’s fans do too. But there’s a difference between a clean hit and a dirty one, and that’s where I think the system is broken.
The bottom line: If you rob a store and wave a gun around only meaning to scare the clerk, but you accidentally shoot him, sorry, you’re going down for murder.
Likewise, I think the rule should be simple in hockey: If you injure a guy on an illegal play, accident or not, you’re out as long as he is. If he misses the season, so do you. If you end his career, you’re gone too.
Implement this rule, enforce it a few times so the players understand it’s serious, and watch the ugly headshots disappear like magic.
Speedy recovery, Patches.
A few things that have been on my mind lately:
1. Idiots are their own worst PR nightmare. Let ‘em talk long enough, they’ll shoot themselves in the foot. No need to do it for them.
2. Laziness is an addition, just like alcoholism. And it has enablers. Don’t be one. Next time someone asks you a question instead of looking it up themselves, send them this link: http://www.justfuckinggoogleit.com.
3. It seems to me that people are much less shutter-happy than they were a few years ago, and are more likely to put away the camera. Has the novelty of digital allowing us to take thousands of photos worn off? Do we have photo fatigue?
4. Food really does taste better on pretty new dishes.
5. I used to think that writers were just being hyperbolic when they talked about sirens “screaming”. Now I know better. They mean it literally.
6. Summer’s not over yet. There’s still almost a month to go until NHL Preseason begins.
The NHL research and development camp is testing a series of potential new rules, with the aim of deciding which ones - if any – should be rolled out during the regular season.
Here’s my recommendation: None of them.
With the possible exception of no-touch icing – which is long overdue - most of these new rules would just fix things that aren’t broken, or turn the NHL into a laughingstock. I mean, two-on-two overtime? No icing while shorthanded? I realise that R&D camp is a chance to try out wacky ideas, but seriously, what are they smoking over there in Ontario?
Meanwhile, the proposed new rules do nothing to address the problems that were introduced with the last round of rule changes, such as teams playing for the shoot-out, ugly hits from behind, and malicious intent to injure.
What I’d like to see? Well, for starters, let’s eliminate the shoot-out during the regular season and go back to ties if it’s still even after OT. The shoot-out can be moved to the post-season, where it can be used to replace marathon games that go on until one of the teams drops of exhaustion. Next, let’s add some zero-tolerance rules for illegal hits that carry penalties that actually mean something. And finally, let’s encourage exciting games by respecting the game and its traditions, unless provided with a compelling reason not to.
I’m disappointed for the Sens – this marks the third straight year that a Canadian team has made it to the finals and lost. And it means that *still* the Cup hasn’t come back home above the border since 1993, when my Habs took it. Sad, ain’t it?
Anyway I have to grudgingly admit that the Ducks earned it. They were the stronger team in this series and the win was well deserved.
Well, it’s all over until next season – no more hockey for the summer. Which of course means that the front page of the sports section every single day between now and September will be devoted to… hockey of course.
The results of the NHL draft lottery were just announced, with the top pick going to the Penguins, who will surely draft rising star Sidney Crosby. The Habs got the fifth overall pick, which is not bad considering. We’re the top Canadian team in the lottery, and Toronto is way down there at number 21. (Note to Leafs’ fans: hahaha).
Oh well. It was exciting for a while, as they announced the results backwards from 30 and Montreal still wasn’t on the board for a while. But alas, it’s Pittsburgh fans who are celebrating right now, and hoping Crosby won’t crumble under all the hype and pressure. As one of the worst teams in the NHL in the last number of years, they can really use him.
Or, at least it looks like it’s going to be back in the fall. The NHL and the NHLPA have announced an agreement in principle that, if ratified, will finally end the lockout that cancelled this season:
Terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but TSN of Canada is reporting it is a six-year deal with a hard team-by-team salary cap with a first-year payroll range of $21 million to $39 million, including all player costs. The salary cap and payroll range will move up or down as revenues increase or decrease each year of the deal.
The players caved, basically. And they have to be feeling pretty low about the fact that this deal is worse than the one they rejected in February.
It looks like there will be a draft on July 21st using a lottery format, and that things will be back to normal for the start of next season – but not quite. The league lacks a US television deal, major sponsors have cancelled, and attendance is sure to be down. It’s anyone’s guess how long it will take the league to recover, if ever.
One question: how long will it take for Bob Goodenow to be fired?