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Silicon Valley veteran doing Technical Community Management. Photographer with a strong interest in birds, wildlife and nature who is exploring the Western states and working to tell you the stories of the special places I've found.
Author and Blogger. They are not the same thing. Sports occasionally spoken here, especially hockey. Veteran of Sun, Apple, Palm, HP and now Infoblox, plus some you've never heard of. They didn't kill me, they made me better.
Person with opinions, and not afraid to share them. Debate team in high school and college; bet that's a surprise.
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Monthly Archives: March 2004
Another voice kicks in — Ken Dryden, hall of fame goalie and executive of the Maple Leafs, steps into the fray and says its time for the NHL to stop explaining the violence, and start taking the public complaints seriously.
Unfortunately, Dryden, his current position notwithstanding, is in the eyes of many still a hockey outsider, because in his day, he chose his education over his hockey career. In the eyes of some, he’s not a real hockey person because of that. And that’s why the game listens to people like Don Cherry and Bobby Clark instead, because those are real hockey people, who live and breathe the game.
Reality is — Dryden does, too. he just hasn’t lose his perspective or connection with reality the way some of the more hard-core boys will be boys types. Unfortunately, the voices of reason are drowned out by the those who think that being the loudest (or last one standing) means you win…
Let’s hope the league pays attention to Dryden as a voice of reason against those who want to explain to us that the game isn’t broken, that it’s somehow our fault for not accepting that this has to happen in the sport. but I’m not hopeful.
If you haven’t been watching the comments on this posting, you should take a few minutes to read them. A fascinating cross-section of hockey fandom weighing in on Todd Bertuzzi’s mugging of Steve Moore.
As it turns out, Moore has a broken neck, a severe concussion, and facial lacerations. On the plus side, he’s still breathing, which, with a fracture at C3, is far from a given. When (or if) he’ll return to hockey is unknown. In return, Bertuzzi loses about $500,000 (US), is a spectator for the rest of the season and playoffs (and potentially longer, depending on Gary Bettman’s moods), and has issues a tearful and heartfelt apology (which I fully believe was honest).
But it’s too damn bad Bertuzzi didn’t feel a bit bad BEFORE he almost killed Moore — and make no mistake, he came very close.
It’s worse, though, that the NHL has created an environment that allows these kind of, um, mistakes to happen. Ultimately, Bertuzzi and his temper pulled this particular trigger — but the NHL is driving the getaway car, and planned the job. Worse, right now, any number of people involved in the NHL are making public statements about Bertuzzi, condemning the action and supporting the suspension, but then quietly looking over their shoulder and wondering what it’ll take to allow Bertuzzi to play in the World Cup, or World Championships. Just exactly what kind of message does that send, anyway?
The answer to that is simple: if you win, if you’re good, if you can change a game or make a difference — then we’ll find a way to work it out. Winning, ultimately, is more important than rules, than ethics, than setting limits, than makeing a statement, than Steve Moore’s neck — or Steve Moore’s life.
There’s another name that comes to my mind when I think about how the league responded to Bertuzzi. It’s not Marty McSorley, and it’s not Eddie Shore, and it’s not Maurice Richard, or Bryan Marchment, or any of the other excitable boys who play NHL hockey on the edge.
It’s Graham James. A serial sexual predator who preyed on young boys who dreamed of hockey careers. Who was put into positions of power over these boys, because he won, by management who either turned a blind eye to things that they should have seen, or who quietly allowed James to move on before the problems became too noticable. It wasn’t until a player finally had the courage to go public that he was convicted and jailed — and many defended James to the very end, and still defend him — because he’s a great coach that wins hockey games. (last I heard, James was coaching in spain — coaching boys, “under supervision”. Hopefully better supervision than his bosses gave him in Swift Current and Calgary).
Currently, some people around Vancouver are rallying support around Bertuzzi. There are “free todd” web sites, there’s a lot of rationalization of the hit. Very scary, very disappointing, not surprising. After all, Bertuzzi is very important to the Canucks (and as someone who watches the Canucks a lot, he’s a very good and interesting-to-watch player).
But why is all that dialog surrounded by “Bertuzzi shouldn’t have done that, but…” (followed by bitching at the league for the length of suspension, bitching at Moore for, as far as I can tell, not willingly submitting to being a victim earlier in the game, or, in the words of Don “please, retire before you embarass yourself further” Cherry, it was the coaches fault for not putting Todd Worrell out there, presumably to beat up anyone who wanted to exact havoc on Moore, as if that solves anything here.
Why is nobody in these camps saying “Bertuzzi shouldn’t have done it — and it’s his fault for doing it because he should have known better”? It’s as if a player that good can’t actually be guilty of doing something this bad (unlike McSorley, who was old, washed up, and easily tossed to the puritans for cleansing) — so someone else has to be to blame? Bertuzzi chased him down, Bertuzzi sucker punched him from behind, Bertuzzi fell on him.
Bertuzzi broke his neck. And Bertuzzi was the one player who could have prevented that, simply by not doing what he did. Everything else is a horrible rationalization that shows what’s really flawed about our love of (and attachment to) sports — and I include myself in that as a hockey fan. Apologies, no matter how heartfelt, won’t unbreak Moore’s neck. Self-control would have. Bertuzzi, the NHL, and far too many of the league’s power brokers — and fans — seem to have forgotten that.
The NHL is honestly aghast when players are injured in this way; yet they do nothing to prevent it. Sure, they get righteous and suspend players for significant periods after the injury happens; what has the league done to keep these injuries from occurring?
Nothing. Call it the code, that unwritten set of rules players use to justify things the rules don’t. Or boys will be boys, or let them play.
I find it very hard to be a hockey fan today, given what the league finds acceptable behavior, and how the people in charge of hockey are rationalizing away allowing this kind of behavior while pretending to condemn it (um, are you sure we can’t get Bertuzzi eligible for the World Championships? It’d really help Team Canada).
The league, ultimately, is responsible for this injury — because the league sets acceptable levels of behavior within the game. And because the league has chosen to allow the code, to buy into the fallacy of boys will be boys, the rock’em’sock’em mentality. By handcuffing referees with fraudulent ideas like don’t decide the game (which, by causing referees to not call penalties at key moments, merely biases the results to those that push the limits and stretch the rules — it still decides the game).
The league could have prevented this injury, simply by choosing to draw a line in the sand that says your behavior is unacceptable at a point before tempers flare so far that people get so angry and so stupid that bad things happen. But they don’t. They wait until someone gets hurt — then draw a line and say you went too far. If the league would get serious about shutting down tempers before they get out of hand, if they get serious about suspensions and penalties that players and teams can’t ignore — this will stop. Stop quickly, too. The league finally got tired of bench clearing brawls and instituted mandatory, long, suspensions — and when was the last time you saw one? Players aren’t stupid. the league sets the tone, and the players follow it.
And frankly, the league is saying “it’s okay, until someone gets hurt”. And unfortunately, by doing so, people get hurt. The lines need to be drawn and enforced such that tempers never get that far out of control. But, well, boys will be boys. But boys have learned not to clear the bench, right?
No, the reality is, those who run the league support the kind of play that leads to what happened here. they may say they don’t — but don’t listen to their words, listen to their actions. I’m not saying they want people to get hurt; but they’re clearly unwilling to fix the problems that lead to it.
A couple of days ago, the Sharks and Kings played. There are major playoff implications here, both teams are hungry, and they don’t like each other. It started out early very physical, very intense, fast, banging. The referees (led by veteran Rob Shick) got involved early and called a number of penalties.
The end result? both sides played some damn good hockey, no brawling, not a lot of stupid play. it was a great game to watch — and on the Sharks list, Shick was bitched at by a couple of users for calling ticky-tack penalties. Those penalties, though, kept the game calmed down and under control, kept tempers from flaring, and forced the players to play hockey. I thought he and the crew did a fine job of keeping the game focussed on hockey, not on thuggery or tempers; but few refs seem to have the guts to do that, and the league doesn’t demand it, or support them when they do — because the fans scream about ticky-tacky penalties, and the coaches and GMs whine about the referees deciding the game.
The league will never become a serious presence in the US market until it figures this out. it’s one of the things killing the NBA, slowly, one uncalled travelling after another (I’ve tried to watch a couple of NBA games recently. Is that what they think is good basketball today? jesus).
Can you imagine the NFL where holding wasn’t called in the fourth quarter because a penalty might decide the game? No, in the NFL, if it’s a penalty in the first quarter, they do a pretty good job of making it a penalty in the fourth, and when they miss it, it’s human error, not judgment or letting the boys play. But that is not only a tolerated attitude in the NHL — it’s the primary one.
It’s a big reason the push into the US by the NHL has stalled and failed. Fighting is another key issue here (but another argument — fighting and gooning/thuggery are separate problems), but you could leave fighting in the game and still take this kind of crap out of it.
Anthony Wilson-Smith is editor of Macleans , Canada’s newsweekly. In the March 22 issue, he summed it up wonderfully:
The NHL is unwilling to see itself as others see it. Under Bettman, it’s tried desperately to be perceived as a major sport in the U.S. — and failed, in part because its reputation for gratuitous violence leads to the NHL being seen as a toy sport — live pinball, with real blood.
Later on, he nails fighting to the wall: A step to changing that would be a crackdown on fighting — something that other fast-moving contact sports like rugby, basketball and football long ago implemented. A clean bodycheck on open ice is like a good midfield hit in football: the violence is controlled, and there’s a balletic choreography to the collision. That’s not the case with the fighting, the slashing, hacking and holding that the NHL effectively condones through it’s mild punishments.
Personally, I could leave fighting in hockey (or have it removed — I understand the strategic aspects of it, but I feel the game can live without it, but I admit I enjoy watching Scott Parker ply his trade as much as I enjoy watching Bertuzzi, Naslund, Marleau, Forsberg and the other stars of the game) but the rest of the boys will be boys attitude leaves the NHL as a spectacle in search of respect; respect is withheld, because it’s unearned and not deserved.
And unfortunately, those who run hockey grew up in the boys will be boys, let ‘em play game, and they don’t see how much damage they’re causing the game with that attitude. Don Cherry is its most visible component, but it’s GMs like Bobby Clarke, who epitomized that attitude when he was a player, and other “traditional” power brokers in the game that are the real problem. Until they change their attitude and allow the game to clean itself up, these incidents will continue, and hockey will continue to live under the bemused eye of a media that only talks about it when something bad happens. And hockey will give those pundits continuing fodder, as players continue to get thugged into the hospital, until the NHL decides to get serious about stopping the violence before people get hurt, not complain after it happens.
Given we can’t even get the league to get serious about high sticks, I’m not holding my breath.
I’m merely hoping it won’t take someone dying on the ice to get the league to wake up and get serious. but given the current power structure and the attitudes they bring to the league, it’s probably more realistic to merely hope I’m not watching when it happens.
Don’t agree with me? Listen to. Do I need to introduce him? No, I guess not.
Or tell me why I’m wrong. but keep the elbows down in the corners, okay?
We’re about 5 hours from the NHL trade deadline — and this is one of the strangest trade deadlines I’ve seen in years. certain teams are stocking up massively (especially the avs) and even teams that traditionally haven’t bought at the deadline are doing so (the flames). Very few teams with playoff aspirations are standing pat.
And other teams are unloading everyone they can. It’s somewhat understandable for the Penguins to cut costs, and for the Rangers to finally clear house.
But what’s notable to me is what’s going back in return. I’m not the greatest expert on the legions of prospects out there, but I usually have some idea of who’s who. And this year, the names flying back in return for these rentaplayer deals are names I’ve never heard of before, and draft picks. Lots and lots of picks.
And the more I look at what’s going on here at the deadline, the more is scares me, because I think it indicates what the GMs and the teams think is going to happen next fall when the CBA expires. they don’t think there’s going to be hockey.
Teams with a chance to run now are stocking up madly, not worrying about the long-term affect of those contracts. Teams who know they’re not in the running now are not only dumping that talent, but bringing back really, really, really young players and draft picks.
What I see is some teams running for this season without worrying about tomorrow, because they don’t believe there is one. It’s either this year — or some time out in the future. And other teams are selling, but taking back in return stuff that won’t benefit them for three, four, or five years. nobody is building to next season, nobody is taking advantage of this to position themselves for a run soon. You’re either running, or you’re reloading way into the future.
And that tells me the GMs are convinced that once the CBA expired, there won’t be hockey for a while. They’re trading in a way that makes sense only if they believe there won’t be hockey next season.
If you want to know what someone thinks, don’t listen to what they say, look at what they do. and right now, what the GMs are doing is preparing for a long dark time. Taht’s not PR rhetoric, this is financial restructuring in a way that wouldn’t happen if they didn’t think it was likely.
Scares me. Scare you? It should.
It is a difficult day to be a hockey fan today. I just happened to be watching (on and off) the Colorado/Vancouver game last night; I was priviledged to see Bertuzzi’s mugging of Steve Moore.
He who lives by the testosterone occasionaly dies by it, and last night, Bertuzzi, who’s game always has an edge to it, fell off the cliff and did something really stupid. I’ll bet he feels horrible about the results; players intend to send messages, not that. But it’s too late for remorse, it doesn’t change the act. Echos of McSorley’s hit on Donald Brashear, or perhaps even moreso Owen Nolan’s hit on Hurricane Grant Marshall in 2001 (which led to an 11 game, well earned, suspension).
Todd Bertuzzi shouldn’t skate the rest of the season. If it were up to me, he wouldn’t skate the first round of the playoffs, either — you not only have to punish Bertuzzi for this, you have to send a message to ALL teams in the NHL that this kind of behavior won’t be tolerated. They way you do that is not taking away the instigator penalty as some experts propose, that solution only leads to this kind of violence, not away from it.
No, you do it by reacting to these events in ways that hurt the team — and it’s too late in the season to impact the Canuck’s playoff situation significantly, so you have to suspend Bertuzzi in a way that impacts the Canuck’s ability to succeed in the playoffs. If you suspend him for ten games, or the rest of the season, all you do is give Vancouvre a rested, healthy Bertuzzi (one looking for redemption) to start the playoffs. If I’m Bryan Burke, I take that suspension and giggle all the way to the conference finals.
How do we get to these situations? Referees are told to not decide the game. which still decides the game, since choosing to not call a penalty still affects the game — but slants the result to those that are willing and able to push beyond the rules, because they know they’ll get away with it.
The real culprit here is a lack of responsibility by the league office to police play in the league. They under-enforce the game during normal gameplay, allowing tempers to flare and emotions to rise beyond acceptable levels. Then they clamp down heavily, which merely increases the frustration. And eventually, it leaks out sideways.
The reason hockey experts are calling for the removal of the instigator rule is not because that’s the solution to these problems: it’s because they’re convinced the league (through the referees and all that way to the top of the league office) won’t accept the responsibility to police the game, so teams feel they have to police it themselves. And they’re probably right, too. And that sucks.
Teams should not feel the need to police the game, or have policemen on their roster to protect their stars. That they do is an indictment of the league at the highest levels — and it leads to things like what happened last night.
And real hockey fans should be disgusted at this, because this is the death of the game, not the essence.
For a view from Vancouver, here is the reasoned voice of some friends of ours who are today, very sad to call themselves Canucks fans.
some interesting thoughts on managing a high-volume e-mail box.
Mine clearly qualifies, since I do e-mail for a living and have to monitor a lot of mailing lists and other things. good advice if you follow the links.
here’s the key to handling volumes of email: learn to use your mail client’s filtering tools, and use them to do triage. the most important hint: figure out the things you don’t need to deal with right now, and get them out fo the way so you can find the stuff you do need to look at.
For instance, I have to follow a bunch of mail lists — but not in real time. So anything that comes from a mailing list gets filtered off to folders, so they’re out of my main mailboxes. I don’t even have to think about them until I have free time, and I don’t have to plow through them (or evaluate them, or be tempted to read them) while I’m busy. Most lists send a “List-ID” header now, and if they don’t, they probably have a “sender” header that you can filter on (except of course for yahoogroups, which invented its own header), so this kind of filtering is fairly easy.
a second thing you can do is take certain things you know you need to look at immediately and colorize or flag them, so you know to check them first. things like (ahem) your boss, your co-workers. I sometimes create temporary filters to flag topics or projects.
It doesn’t have to be complex (and in fact, I’d argue you’re better off with fewer folders and filters than more — if you’re constantly plowing through 30 folders, you get just as lost as if you plow through one). I ahve two main mailboxes, one for home, one for work. My work mail-lists, my home mail-lists each go in their own folder. I keep a work TODO and a home TODO for mail that need to be handled but I can’t handle immediately. and then I keep a work DONE and a home DONE for email that I’m done with but I want to archive. I also create task or project folders at times, and the DONE and task folders get burnt to CDR every so often.
Part of this is to keep the inbox empty — read it, then delete it, file it, or schedule it for later handling. leave nothing in your inbox, anything you can’t handle right away goes in TODO or a project folder. that way, you know the stuff in your inbox is new, and needs to be looked at. saves you looking at stuff to find the new stuff.
If you set it up, you can avoid wasting time trying to decide what to do — because your worklow will naturally fall out from the organization. I know some folks who can survive with the “I put it all in the pile and I can find it when I need it” mode, but for most of us mortals, that fails just as badly with paper materials as it does with email: but while most folks have figured out file folders for paper, they still seem to handle their email box as a single large gulp.
and then wonder why they feel overloaded with email.. divide and conquer. Learn what you can defer, and then defer it.