Archive for the ‘character’ category

Are NHLer’s Playing in the Olympics Doing What’s Best for Hockey?

February 28, 2010

Olympic hockey has come to a close.  Canada took the Gold thanks to pure adrenalin amidst legs that were quickly tiring of 4 on 4 hockey.

Now that it’s finished I too will join the chorus of people asking: Should NHLer’s be allowed to play in the Olympics?

Short Answer: It depends.

Long Answer:

The Olympics are supposed to highlight the competition of the best; best individuals and best teams.  However, there is a phenomenon well known in sports that the best teams don’t always have the best individuals.

Throughout the various telecasts announcers made reference to how many NHLer’s were on every team, as if that on its own determined whether or not the team would be able to compete.

I don’t think anyone needs reminding that the “Miracle on Ice” team had ZERO NHLer’s on it at the time they won the Gold in Lake Placid.  Oh, sure, many of the players went on to play in the NHL, but if you could time warp this year’s US team to then, there would be no doubt that this year’s team was superior in talent. 

What’s my point?

Hockey is team sport.  If the sport is to be respected and if it’s to truly grow, it needs to continue to be connected to its roots – it needs to be a sport of passion, commitment, skill and teamwork.  What will showcase that is multiple teams competing that have played together for more than 48 hours before the Olympic tourney. Having a two week, round robin, All-Star series, however exciting, is not what hockey is all about. 

But what about the players?  They overwhelmingly want to participate and play for their respective countries. 

Why wouldn’t they?  They get a chance to compete in the Olympics and if they fail they come back to multi-million dollar contracts and a shot at the Stanley Cup. 

Alexander Ovechkin said he would walk out on his team to play in the next Olympics if the NHL didn’t suspend operations and send its players like it did this year.  I would venture that other players might do the same.

This perspective is interesting.

Ovechkin (and others like him) are basically telling their native countries: “You can work for two to four years to pull together a team but in the end, you’ll want me there anyway.”

Maybe….Maybe not.

If players in the NHL really cared about showcasing hockey in its best light, they would leave the NHL for two years and go back to their native countries, tryout for, and if they made it, work to build their respective teams in intra/inter-national competition.  That would make for some really great hockey in Sochi 2014.

Okay, so I’m polling NHLer’s: I know you all bleed to play in your native lands, to go for the Gold in the Olympics.  So I’m asking you,  how many of you will leave your NHL teams in two years, go to your Native lands and go to work to prepare for Sochi? 

Now don’t all raise your hands at the same time…I’ll wait….

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Time to Kick it in to Gear-Don Granato Gone as Coach of the Wolves

October 19, 2009

I’m here in Cincinnati checking my email and there is the press release I’d been hoping for.

Don Granato and Jason Christie have finally been let go.

I know they tried but something never quite clicked under them.  I appreciate the effort but this team has seemed like it’s been going through the motions for too long.  The change was needed.

Now it’s on the players and it’s time to kick it in to gear and start playing like they can.

Go Wolves!

Kane Agrees to Plea Deal

August 27, 2009

monopoly-get-out-of-jail-free-card

Well, as expected, Kane pleaded guilty to lesser charges and as a result has to issue a written apology to the cab driver and stay out of legal trouble for a year.

What this essentially says is that the evidence against Kane was strong enough that he most likely would have been convicted of more serious charges had this gone to court.  In other words, odds are him and his cousin beat the cabbie up over twenty cents.  I still can’t believe a person can be that shallow.

Speaking of shallow, his apologies, though I realize they’re crafted in legal-eze,  for “causing pain” to everyone and for being in a “regrettable situation“, don’t really get to the core of what happened and instead perpetuate the perception that he really didn’t do anything wrong,  he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and the fact that people are emotionally hurt and scarred by this, to the extent that it was due to his being in the wrong place at the wrong time, he’s sorry for that. 

Dude, step up and apologize publicly to the cabbie for beating him up.  If not that, go face to face with the dude and be a man.

It will be interesting to see how he’s treated by the fans when the season starts.

Patrick Kane – Fact and Spin

August 11, 2009

facts

Patrick Kane Arrested – How Much Did Management Contribute?

August 10, 2009
Is 20 Cents Worth it? Is 15 Dollars Worth it?

Is 20 Cents Worth it? Is 15 Dollars Worth it?

Unfortunately the sports world is filled with people who give a pretty good impression to most of the world and then come home and beat their wives….or cab drivers.

Kaner looks like a good kid.  When he talks he doesn’t give the impression of being a scholar but that’s okay – intelligence doesn’t necessarily correlate with peaceful behavior.

Right now we assume he’s innocent until proven guilty.  The cab driver doesn’t seem like the sharpest tool in the shed either but he does have marks around the face and neck that are consistent with his story.

Regardless,  things like this don’t happen with ‘character’ players.

We can make excuses and say “boys will be boys” but that’s what they are: excuses.

If Kaner  really did say something like, “Do you know who I am?” then this sounds a lot more like a kid where fame has gone to his head, where the accolades of an adoring crowd and management has fueled a mentality that he is entitled to something more.  That the Blackhawks came out and said they, “stand behind him” (without putting anything up about this incident on their website!) corroborates this but what else could they say?  They’ve contributed to this problem by putting out a team with no veteran, seasoned leaders who can help young players adjust and grow when subjected to new found fame and fortune.

Being on a professional team is about more than playing a season – it should also be about growing as human being and being more than just a cog in wheel.  It should be about showing people athletic prowess is just one facet of being human. 

This whole situation d0es not smack of maturity or growth over the past year.   One has to wonder if this would have happened if the Hawks spent more time molding their kids as opposed to feeding them the line “they’ve already arrived.”

Well folks, they’ve arrived and the fare is more than $13.80.

Pay up.

It’s Almost Over

May 24, 2009

melt michael plishka 2009

The meltdown occurred.

A young Blackhawks team that has battled its way out of adversity in the past has met its match.  Now, while the series is not yet over, being down 3-1 and being drubbed 6-1 in game 4, in your home building, is basically a cue to get tee times ready for next week.

I was particularly puzzled and disappointed by Coach Q’s complaint about the officiating, especially when there were plenty of other things to find fault with, namely the play on the ice. 

Once again, Brian Campbell made it clear why his playoff play has been questioned in the past by making us question it again in the present.

I’ve been pulling for Huet and saying he can be as good as Khabibulin but he wasn’t great today.  He was great at times, but overall, when he needed to make stops, he didn’t.

Duncan Keith and the rest of the defensive crew once again showed that when the pressure’s on, they make stupid plays.  

Again, Kane and Toews couldn’t get free and threaten.

Oh, did I mention that this loss was to a Detroit team that was minus stars, Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk?

I’m not disappointed in what the Hawks did this year.  They surpassed my predictions and expectations, but I had a feeling, as I mentioned before, that this round would be the end of the line – or the beginning of the line to the First Tee.

It’s been a good run. 

Thanks, Hawks, and I hope you at least can bring the Wings back to Chicago for a better send off for yourselves and the Wings.

This year deserves better.

Is the Series Really up to the Goalies?

April 25, 2009
Nikolai Khabibulin and Mikka Kiprusoff have seen their share of rubber, but are they the reason the series is tied?

Nikolai Khabibulin and Mikka Kiprusoff have seen their share of rubber, but are they the reason the series is tied?

There’s been alot of talk around the quality of goaltending in this series. Here are my observations:

This Calgary post seems to say that the series thus far, and the future of it, has been and will be decided by Calgary goaltending.  While I agree that goaltending looms huge in the playoffs, I wouldn’t say that either goalie has been overly lax in their duties thus far.  Yes, both have let in less than stellar goals, but the Calgary writer points the finger at Kiprusoff for not holding a three goal lead. 

I can’t do the same.  Calgary’s work ethic is at fault, not the goaltending.  I watched the game and saw a change in the Calgary toughness and execution right after they took the 4-1 lead.  I was travelling and watching the game on the East Coast so I had hoped I could get to sleep early when Calgary took the aforementioned lead.  But, after Calgary made it 4-1, I sensed a shift in work ethic and I thought, “I think the Hawks will make a game of this.”  They did.

On the Chicago side we have this and this that talk about Khabby’s greatness and professionalism, etc.  Again, I think it’s wrong to hang everything on the goalie here as well.  However, ever since I saw the Bulin Wall get dismantled by the Chicago Wolves in the IHL playoffs (1998) when he was playing for the Long Beach Ice Dogs, one thing is clear: As the team goes, so goes Khabibulin. 

Yes, he’s got the ability to singlehandedly save a game but is he a goalie that will do that all the time even when the team around him is rattled and crumbling?

No.  Just because Khabibulin is signed for an outrageous sum of money does not make him equal to, or better than, Martin Brodeur.  Sorry.

However, Khabibulin is smart enough to know the score and what it will take to win.  He didn’t say, “If I step up my game we’ll win this.”  That may have been an accurate statement but he’d have to become supergoalie and that’s not a realistic recipe for wining the series.  Instead he simply said: “We execute, we win.”

BINGO!

Execution.  That’s what the series comes down to. 

On the one hand you’ve got the Calgary Flames, a team that will win this series if it throws its weight around, plays with focus and passion, and keeps the young Hawk team on its heels.

On the other you’ve got a passionate,  inexperienced, young team (“Young Sticks”-like “Young Guns” as my cousin calls them) that more often than not though, looks like they’re in over their heads when Calgary takes the game to them. 

I think you can see where this is leading.  The common denominator in both scenarios is Calgary, not the goalies.  Thus far both netminders have played well enough for wins; not phenomenal but good enough. What will determine this series is Calgary’s ability to play 60 minutes of solid, body crunching hockey. 

If there are times Calgary doesn’t, it’s up to Marty Havlat and the rest of the Hawks to blow through the breach and make Calgary pay.

As Khabibulin said, “We execute, we win.”