Archive for the ‘The Olympics’ category

Thoughts on the Blackhawks and the Devil’s Trapezoid

March 14, 2010

We’re coming into the home stretch of the season and some things are beginning to bug me.

1.  The Blackhawks.  There is something about the way they are playing that is making me feel uncomfortable.  I can’t put my finger on it though.  The last two losses to the Caps and Flyers didn’t help that feeling.  It’s not about goaltending, even though it’s been less than solid.  It’s a team dynamic thing.  It’s about giving up goals in bunches.  It’s about perhaps being too cocky or confident.  It’s about not being able to always put teams away.  It was summed up when Captain Jonathan Toews said today, “We’ve got the most skill in the league, on any team.  There’s no reason, up 3-0, we can’t go out and finish the team off.” 

He’s right that the Hawks should be able to finish of a team when they’re up 3-0, but I don’t buy that the Hawks are the most skilled team in the league – and most teams in the NHL don’t think that either.  So now, when teams are looking for that extra something to make the playoffs, they’ll have Toew’s  little tidbit posted on their locker room walls.  It’s bad enough that teams are gunning for you because you’re a top team but to say you’re the most skilled team will just tick some teams off and make the Blackhawk’s road to the Cup that much more difficult.

I do value that as Captain he’s trying to fire the boys up, and hopefully he knows his team best and they will respond.    But, only time will tell…

2. Please, please PLEEEEEASE get rid of the stupid trapezoid behind the net (It was such a relief and pleasure to watch Olympic hockey without it).  Last night I watched a game where the puck was trickling to the goal line and a player from the other team was bearing down on the goalie but still was a few strides away (a teammate was coming down the opposite boards).  The goalie accidentally touched the puck almost in the corner and was given a delay of game penalty.  I was stunned.  I know that’s what’s given for the infraction but here the goalie clearly kept play moving and prevented a lull where the puck would’ve died just past the goal line and we would’ve waited for someone to catch up to the puck.  A Delay of Game?  Why not call it a ‘Bettman’?  

New Jersey Penalty, Number thirty, Martin Brodeur, 2 minutes for a Bettman at 14:36, Brodeur 2 minutes for a Bettman at 14:36.  Penalty being served by….”

That has a ring to it!

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….