Category Archives: Sports – Hockey

Is the end of fighting in hockey near?

Status quo not acceptable for fighting rules – Cross Checks Blog – ESPN:

The NHL’s all-time winningest coach has seen it all in his day, and he agrees with Steve Yzerman that something has to be done to curb fighting in the sport.

All of a sudden there is a groundswell of opinion among people within hockey — people who can make the change happen — that it’s time for fighting to stop. This decision is overdue, frankly. It’s hard to take seriously a league that is trying to stop players from hitting each other in the head, unless, of course, they square off and remove their gloves first. Then it’s just a penalty. 

I am not an anti-fighting advocate. When I’m at a hockey game, I’ll stand up and cheer a good fight. I have, at times, been known to kick back and watch a boxing match without shame. I understand the attraction and it’s place in the game. 

But the more we learn about what it does to a player’s head, and to their life for the rest of their lives, the harder it is for me to be complacent and say “hey, it’s part of the game”. So were line brawls, stick swinging, and cleared benches escalating into full riots. 

Some can argue that fighting makes hockey a better and more entertaining game. For some, that’s probably true. As much as I can enjoy a good hockey fight, I also enjoy a good hockey game, and my enjoyment of the sport won’t go away if fighting does. But some of the injury and life-long damage to the players will go away if we end it. 

The continuing farce surrounding hockey fights and player safety — the new rule that removing your helmet is a penalty is leading fighters to orchestrate removing each others — is showing just how obvious tolerating fighting is out of sync with the realities of today’s game. 

While Don Cherry will never admit it, it’s not the 1960′s any more, and the game of hockey as played then doesn’t exist now. 

It’s time for us to recognize that fighting adds little to the game and retire it from the field of play. Change the rules: if you drop your gloves and throw a punch, it’s a game misconduct. 

Then lets get back to playing hockey. 

2013 Playoffs, stanley cup finals edition

So here we are, June 9. It’s down to two teams. Depending on how the finals go, it may be almost July before before the cup is awarded.

this bothers me. I’m frankly ready for something other than hockey, as good as the playoffs are. And it’s a reminder that this lockout-whacked season is, well, whacked. Not a reminder I particularly wanted. But then, I didn’t want June hockey, either. ohwell.

That said, there’s been some great hockey, some really good teams have been sent golfing (the good news: it’s late enough in the year that snow won’t ruin your golf date), and we’re down to Chicago and Boston.

Okay, seriously. Did anyone who hasn’t seen a game live in Boston Gardens pick the Bruins to beat the Penguins? Did anyone in the universe pick them to sweep? No, me, neither. Upsets this drastic are typically first round things, not conference finals. And it’s not like Pittsburgh played badly. It’s not like their goaltending faltered. Instead, it’s that Boston had a really good idea how to play against the Pens — and executed their gameplan very well. My respect for Tukka Rask has gone way up, too. it’s not that I didn’t think he was a solid goaltender, but he’s exceeded expectations.

And in the West? I thought Quick and the Kings would beat the Hawks — and Crawford and the Hawks refused to let it happen. That was a great series, two very good teams playing well, and playing hard. There’s very little I can say bad about the Kings, other than the Hawks were simply a bit better.

But that means I was oh-fer for the conference finals. 0-2, which makes me 8-6 for the playoffs, which means no matter what, I’m over .500 for the playoffs this year, but I’d rather be 9-6 than 8-5.

The finals are hard to judge, though. I like the Hawks. I like the way the Bruins are playing now. I like Crawford, but Rask is impressive. I can make an argument for both teams. I can make arguments against both. And I’m unsure which way to go. I want to see Chicago win, but my gut keeps saying watch out for Boston.

So I think I’m going to pick the Bruins, in six games.

I’ll be happy either way, really. Especially because it means that hockey will be over. for a few weeks, and then it’ll be time for training camp. Don’t expect either of these teams to be able to repeat in 2014 — this schedule makes it impossible.

2013 Playoffs, Conference Finals

The Sharks fought the kings to game 7 and fell one goal, one shot, a couple of inches short. Some years it hurts, some years you feel they went as far as they can; this year, I think they went further than I expected and proved to themselves they could.

Still, their season is over, and it’s not for four teams. Still work to do.

In the 2nd round, I picked the Pens, Bruins, Chicago and Sharks. 3-1, which puts me at 8-4 for the playoffs. Maybe I should have been betting this year.

I’m tempted to say “now it gets really interesting”, but in reality, it’s been a great playoffs. If the people who like to argue that the standard NHL season is too long want evidence, this year is it. Change the regular season from a marathon to a sprint and leave some fuel in the tank for the playoffs, and look what happens.

And so to the conference finals. To nobody’s surprise, it’s the Penguins and Bruins. As it turns out, the Bruins got through the Rangers easier than I expected. Also, Torotorella is out of a job in New York. These two data points are not unrelated.

I have to say I still like the Penguins out of the east. I don’t think Boston will make it easy, but I’m not convinced they can beat the Pens. I like boht teams, though. I’ll call this Pittsburgh in 6.

And in the West, also to very little surprise, it’s Chicago vs. LA. It seems rare that the final teams in reality match up with the guesses, but this year, these four would have been on lots of lists. To me, this series comes down to Crawford vs. Quick. Quick is, it seems, playing even better this playoff than he did last year, when he ‘only’ won the Conn-Smythe and the Cup. Can Crawford out-battle him and hold back the Kings?

Sorry, Hawks fans. I think the Kings are on a roll. I think the Hawks are playing well, but so were the Sharks. I’m not sure what will stop the Kings on a march to repeat, but I don’t think the Kings will. It’ll be a good series, but the Kings are headed back to the finals in 5.

Still a fair amount of really good hockey to be played. I’m looking forward to it.