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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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Category Archives: Sports – Hockey
There was an interesting set of events in the games tonight surrounding the concussion protocol in the NHL. In the Sharks/Blues game, St. Louis goaltender Halak was run over and hit in the head by one of his own guys, requiring some time to get his bearings. Even though he ultimately wanted to continue, the trainer convinced him to go off the ice, and he was replaced by Elliot. The original report on him was that Halak was going to return, but evidently something tightened up, because later, he was reported as having a lower body injury and day to day. Elliot finished the game (and won), and the Blues have said they’ll take their third goalie with them to San jose just in case.
Then later, Phoenix goalie Mike Smith got run over (and the blackhawks player got a game misconduct for it) and went to the ice clutching his face and head and stayed down an extended period. It was serious enough that the team doctor went onto the ice. Ultimately, unlike Halak, Smith was allowed to continue and finish the game.
My question is — WHY? That clearly seems to fall under the “go to the quiet room” protocol, but that wasn’t invoked on him. IMHO, the hit on Smith was a harder head hit than Halak got. The Blues trainer did the correct thing by insisting Halak go get checked out. The only possible explanation for Phoenix was the doctor on the ice checked Smith out on ice and cleared him — but even so, as I understand the protocol, he still should have been sent to the quiet room.
This seems like a mistake by the Phoenix medical staff. I understand why they’d want Smith in there, and why he’d want to continue — but I do hope the league looks into this and explains why both medical teams made the right decision, or if not, how they plan to make sure the right thing happens in the future. I think smith was allowed to put his head at risk for more serious injury by not going off for evaluation, and I don’t understand why the medical staff and referees didn’t force this issue, when it seems they should have.
(FWIW, it looks like the hit by the Chicago player was unintentional to me, not on purpose. But the major penalty was still the correct call. And it may be that Smith took the brunt of the hit to his jaw and possibly bit his tongue (which HURTS), but even so, I’d really like to hear why he wasn’t sent to the quiet room. “it’s the playoffs” is not an acceptable answer.
While everyone else talks about the teams that did (and didn’t) make the NHL playoffs, one thing I do every year is take a look at the officials and see who is in and who isn’t, and follow that through the playoffs rounds (and so did Kerry Fraser). Who makes the playoffs and how far they get is a rough indicator of what the league thinks of their overall performance (with a dose of seniority tossed in), so it’s a way of comparing who you think are the top refs with what the league thinks.
And no, my list never matches up with the leagues… not completely, at least.
So first, referees…
- Development refs: David Banfield (2007), Jean Hebert (2010), Ghislain Hebert (2008), Marcus Vinnerborg (2010).
- Stephan Auger (1994)
- Gord Dwyer (2003)
- Mike Hasenfratz (2000)
- Dave Jackson (1989)
- Dennis LaRue (1989)
- Rob Martell (1992)
- Dean Morton (1999)
- Justin St.Pierre (2003)
- Don VanMassenhoven (1992)
These refs made the first round:
- Paul Devorski
- Eric Furlatt
- Marc Joannette
- Tom Kowal
- Steve Kozari
- Mike Leggo
- Chris Lee
- Wes McCauley
- Brad Meier
- Dan O’Halloran
- Dan O’Rourke
- Tim Peel
- Brian Pochmara
- Kevin Pollock
- Chris Rooney
- Kelly Sutherland
- Francois St. Laurent
- Stephen Walkom
- Ian Walsh
- Brad Watson
- Stand-by’s — Greg Kimmerly and Frederick E’Cuyer
When senior refs miss the first round, it’s notable. this year, Dave Jackson, Dennis LaRue, Rob Martell, Don VanMassenhoven are all missing from the second season. Sometimes this is due to injury, and it’s become somewhat of a tradition for retiring officials to bow out of the playoffs, which gives them a chance to schedule in their final game and bring the family in for it (Dan Schachte did that this year, for instance). I don’t know the status of the refs as far as injuries, but to be honest, other than VanMassenhoven, nobody on the “golfing” list strikes me as a major surprise, but I don’t see any of them missing from the end of season games. I must admit I’ve never been a big Dave Jackson fan, something that has put me in disagreement with the NHL officiating office, given how they’ve rewarded on him in past years.
The crew that made it? In general, I think the current NHL referees are a solid group overall, if a bit bland. That blandness is by design, and really necessary to make the two referee system successful, but that’s an essay for some other time – I do miss the flavor a Paul Stewart or Kerry Fraser brought to the game, though.
I do like these refs, though: Devorski, McCauley, Sutherland, Walkom and Watson would be my choices to go into the final round.
These linesmen didn’t make the first round:
- Development Linesmen: Bryan Pancich (2009)
- Pierre Champoux (1988)
- Michel Cormier (2003)
- Mike Cvik (1987)
- Ryan Galloway (2002)
- Don Henderson (1994)
- Brian Mach (2000)
- Andy McElman (1993)
- Jean Morin (1991)
- Thor Nelson (1994)
- Vaughn Rody (2000)
- Dan Schachte (1982) — retired
These linesmen did make the first round:
- Derek Amell
- Steve Barton
- David Brisebois
- Lonnie Cameron
- Scott Cherrey
- Greg Devorski
- Scott Driscoll
- Shane Heyer
- Brad Kovachik
- Brad Lazarowich
- Steve Miller
- Jean Morin
- Brian Murphy
- Jonny Murray
- Derek Nansen
- Tim Nowak
- Pierre Racicot
- Anthony Sericolo
- Jay Sharrers
- Mark Wheler
- Stand-bys — Darren Gibbs, Mark Shewchyk
A number of the “graybeards” among the linesmen didn’t make the cut this year — Donny Henderson, Mike “oh my god, he’s tall” Cvik, Thor Nelson. Dan Schachte retired and played his last game towards the end of the season (god speed, Dan, and thank you). Mike Cvik has always been one of my favorite linesmen, not just because he’s huge and a good peacekeeper on the ice, but seems to have a good rapport with players as well — but it’s been clear he’s heading towards the end of his career, too. I don’t see any names on the “golf” list that make me want to complain about the choices, but then, I’m not sitting there taking notes on who’s missing offside calls any more, either.
It’s nice to see Jay Sherrers and Shane Heyer just carrying on. Don’t be surprised to see them in the final round, along with Devorski and Brad Lazarowich. That’d be my choices.
These are good, solid crews (a certain missed offsides call notwithstanding. One can guess one name is already marked off the 2nd round roles…). It’s interesting that this is really the first year that all of the referees that were skating the NHL when the league expanded to include the Sharks are now gone, and except for a couple of linesmen like Sharrers and Cvik, pretty much true for them as well); for referees, it’s almost hit the point that referees that pre-date the two ref system have retired. Anyone who still wants to complain about that, time to move on, the transition is complete.
I have to give the Sharks full credit. they didn’t make it easy for themselves, but they found a way and won the last four games. Finished a point out of the division title and ended up 7th in the west. The last two games with the Kings were (mostly) well-played and showed what this team is capable of.
Unfortunately, this team seems like it plays best when it’s back is to the wall, and so it seems to have to put its back to the wall to play well. That doesn’t seem to me to be a great playoff strategy, but we’ll see.
So the first round of the playoffs is set. Here are my predictions.
In the West:
Los Angeles/Vancouver — Quick vs. Luongo. Upstart Kings vs. repeating Presidents Cup winners. I really like both teams. I think this is the series to watch out west. I’d love to pick the Kings, but I think the Canucks will take this one in six.
San Jose/St. Louis: I’m thrilled to see the Blues back in the playoffs, and they’re a scary team. The sharks haven’t matched well with them this season. This is, actually, the worst match up for the Sharks, so I have to pick the Blues in five. It’ll be interesting to see if the Sharks can solve this, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
Chicago/Phoenix: Also great to see — the Coyotes in the playoffs. They’re a fun and scrappy team playing in “mission from God” mode. the Blackhawks just don’t seem to click reliably. Not sure Laurie will like hearing this, but I have to go with the Coyotes in six.
Detroit/Nashville: Nashville is a solid contender. Detroit is, well, Detroit, and you rarely profit betting against them. they are a team that just finds a way. There have been chinks in the Red Wings armor this year. I like the Predators; not flashy, but they get it done. And so I think they will in five.
So in summary: Vancouver, St. Louis, Phoenix, Nashville.
And my pick for the west going into the first round? St. Louis. (then Vancouver)
In the East:
Ottawa/New York Rangers: The Rangers are a fine team (shh: don’t tell Larry Brooks, he hates it when things go well, nothing to whine about). The Senators are a good team, but not in that league. This one goes to the Rangers in five.
Washington/Boston: The Capitals are a very talented team that have never found a consistent winning rhythm. the Bruins have had a few air pockets but they’re still a team you need to be wary of. I can’t see how the Capitals will beat the Bruins the way the Caps have been playing, and Boston is really the better team. Bruins in 5.
New Jersey/Florida: like betting against the Red Wings, until the last few years, you didn’t bet against Brodeur in the playoffs. But he’s shown a strong tendency to fade late, and age is not doing him favors. The Panthers have finally built a good team, and I think they’re rewarded in this round. Panthers in six.
Philadelphia/Pittsburgh: the series to watch in the east by far. Two really good teams that have a big hate on for each other. You have to wonder if the team that survives this round will have anything left for round two. This match is almost a toss-up, but I’m going to pick the Penguins in seven. I also predict one season ending injury and at least one line brawl.
In summary: New York Rangers, Boston, Florida, Pittsburgh
And my pick for the east going into the first round Pittsburgh (then the Rangers)
My pick for the cup? Pittsburgh.
Now, a few days off to rest up, and the second season begins.
In the post game, Ray Ratto and Drew got into it. I admit: I missed this live, because Laurie and I were so thrilled at the game, we turned off for a DVRed episode of Good Eats. No, really. Good Eats reruns.
Here’s my take on all of this. If you caught me on twitter during and after the game, you’ll know I pretty much wrote off the Sharks after this game. For once, Ray Ratto is right: this is not a playoff team. It hasn’t played like one since the start of the year. Last night, I saw a team working hard, but not working desperate.
I love Drew, he’s smart, fun to listen to and usually right, but last night, his attachment to the Sharks and to coaching got the best of him. He loves this team (and so do I), but his rant last night was more denial than explanation. Ratto nails it. Here in the Western Conference, which is a nasty ass conference, and the Pacific Division, which is a nasty division, the Sharks are not a playoff team. Even if they squeeze into the playoffs, I can’t see them getting past the first round.
After the game, Joe thornton said this team needed to win out and go 4-0 to close the season. Best case is 3-1 might get them in. Is the team that lost the last two games going to do that? I don’t’ see it. They’ll be lucky to go 1-3. Right now, I expect the Kings should sweep them.
How did we get to this point? That’s a tough, complicated question, one I’ve grappled with for a while. My current thinking is something like this:
First, and most important, the conference and division has gotten better around the Sharks. This is, first and foremost, not about the Sharks getting bad, but about the team being as good as it is and the rest of the league catching up. Did you see St. Louis getting as good as it has this year? No, me, neither. There are no soft teams in the west, and even “bad” teams like Edmonton can and will make you crazy. So the primary “failure” here is — parity.
Having said that, I think this team has had a “of course we’re a playoff team” mentality, perhaps leaning a bit too hard on “we just need to be ready for April” and planning to flip the switch. You can’t ever let the regular season be a tuneup for the real season, or, well, you hit the last ten games of the season in a dogfight for 8th, and lose that slot to a team that’s learned how to be desperate. This team maybe has coasted a bit on its belief that it will just be there when it really matters, and now that it’s really mattering, finding it’s not quite as easy as it thought.
I think injuries have taken a toll on this team; there have been enough to keep the roster in flux all season, and that’s kept this team from ever generating the kind of “on a roll” chemistry it’s shown in the past.
I’m am curious whether or not Marleau is playing with an injury. If he’s not — what the hell happened? Marleau has always had times when he’s gone into funks; it’s never been at crunch time and he’s always ended the season putting up the kind of numbers we expect from him. But honestly, right now I want to put his picture on a milk carton. I don’t see any reason why he’s been so — invisible — on the ice. He is the only top six forward I can call out as being a significant disappointment to me. It’s now the Joe and Joe and Logan and Ryan show out there, and all four get nothing but positives from me.
Drew’s support of the coaching staff is not misplaced. I share it. I don’t see this as something that puts either Doug Wilson or Coach McClellan’s job at risk. I do wonder — and I am completely unqualified to judge — how significant the loss of Trent Yawney from the staff for this season is affecting things, especially given the plummet in performance in special teams. Jay Woodcroft seems like a great person, but it seems to me this team might need a more seasoned and experienced voice helping McClellan (and let me emphasize that I’m not saying anything against Woodcroft other than maybe this team needs someone further down the career path; or maybe not — that’s something Doug Wilson will have to evaluate).
Wilson made some roster changes during the offseason. I like and continue to like the Brent Burns deal. It took him some time to acclimate, once he did, I’ve liked his play. Given setoguchi’s play in minnesota, a no-brainer. the Heatley deal for havlat got sidetracked by injuries, that was a known risk of the deal, and it’s a risk that we got hit by.
I look at Huskins in St. Louis, and I look at Ian White in Detroit, and then I look at Colin White here in San jose, and I think to myself — really? Sorry, Colin White was not an upgrade, not in any way, shape or form. This team would have been a lot better off keeping Ian White; I’m not a huge fan of Huskins, but he’s been put in a system where he’s been solid. Even so, Huskins would be a step up from Colin White.
That said — that’s a minor blip in the Doug Wilson track record.
The end result here? The better a team is, the harder it is to keep making it better. I think the Sharks ran into that this year. They plateaued. At a high level, but it’s still a plateau. I think the biggest off-season loss was Yawney on the coaching staff, and I think that needs to be looked at in the offseason. Injuries were never catastrophic (no Sydney Crosby injuries) but enough injuries happened to keep the roster from gelling and this team from ever building momentum or chemistry. It challenged the organization depth, and the depth is okay but only okay. And I think this team mentally got a bit complacent, and got into a mindset that what really mattered was being ready for the playoffs. And they did that in a conference full of teams hungry for the playoffs, and now — it’s on the outside wondering what happened.
And then there’s the mystical missing Marleau.
And perhaps missing the playoffs will make this team pissed again, and playing with that edge again. Which is something this team needs, and which I think was missing this year. And that will be good for this team — next season. It’s too late this year.
I don’t think this team needs major surgery. I do think changes need to be made, but that’s true every year.
For now, though, I’m just counting down the days to the playoffs, and I’m looking forward to seeing just how far the Blues can go, and how many team they’re going to scare along the way…
(hat tip: Kukla)
63.6 Awarded Goal – In the event that the goal post is displaced, either deliberately or accidentally, by a defending player, prior to the puck crossing the goal line between the normal position of the goalposts, the Referee may award a goal. In order to award a goal in this situation, the goal post must have been displaced by the actions a defending player or goalkeeper, the puck must have been shot (or the player must be in the act of shooting) at the goal prior to the goal post being displaced, and it must be determined that the puck would have entered the net between the normal position of the goal posts. When the goal post has been displaced deliberately by the defending team when their goalkeeper has been removed for an extra attacker thereby preventing an impending goal by the attacking team, the Referee shall award a goal to the attacking team. The goal frame is considered to be displaced if either or both goal pegs are no longer in their respective holes in the ice, or the net has come completely off one or both pegs, prior to or as the puck enters the goal.
So right now, twitter and the sharks broadcast are harping on the official call leading to the third goal. Here’s my take. Okay, two takes.
If you read the rule, the intent of what Boyle did means nothing. He knocked the goal off, whether he intended to is irrelevant. If the referee feels the puck would go in the net, then he was correct to call the awarded goal.
That was the incorrect interpretation, but if it took us three looks in slow-mo on replay, I’m going to cut the refs some slack on the call. It was fast, close, and a lot of moving parts. The puck missed by maybe an inch. Catching that at full speed in real time is tough at best.
There was a somewhat extended discussion with the situation room in Toronto, but the decision that matters (“the goal was going in, so the goal is awarded”) isn’t reviewable. Even if toronto tells the refs what happened, unless the refs on the ice can change that call, it won’t be changed. it looked to me like all four zebras huddled to see if someone had an angle on the call — and ultimately, the original call stood.
And so the goal did, too. That’s how it goes some times. The referees made the appropriate call on the ice. It wasn’t the right call, but it was a situation where the right call was almost impossible to make, and it was a call that Toronto’s situation room couldn’t correct on review. (whether we want even more interminable delays in the game for reviews is another argument. I lean towards coaches having one call a game in some situations, but honestly, I don’t want more time spent standing around wondering what Toronto is going to decide slowing down the game)
And frankly, this all misses the point completely.
it matters not at all whether the Sharks lose this game 2-1 or 3-1.
the Sharks still lost. And now are holding onto the playoffs with two fingernails and a prayer. They didn’t play badly, they didn’t play great. They needed great. And the Ducks are the difference this year between the sharks winning the division and maybe missing the playoffs. A team the sharks simply don’t match up well against, and it showed again tonight. Close, no cigar.
And the OTHER team the Sharks really don’t match up well against is — the Blues. And who are the sharks likely to see in the first round? And if not the first round, sometime in the playoffs? yup.
So to me, this non-controversy is even more non-controversial, because I still don’t see the Sharks going far if they do make the playoffs.
That’s how it goes sometimes….
No, things aren’t going well for the Sharks.
But they’re also on a stretch that has them playing nine games in 15 nights so Todd McLellan decided that his players needed time away from the rink more than they needed another practice.
Yes, I know, some of you would have bag-skated them after going 0-for-California at a time that’s crucial to their (fading?) playoff hopes.
It almost pains me to say it, but right now, the Sharks look to me to be missing the playoffs.
It’s hard to put a finger on what’s wrong. I don’t think the coaches know. I don’t think the players know. I sure don’t. But from watching them, it’s not that they’ve given up or stopped caring. They haven’t tuned out the coach. I like their work ethic. their conditioning seems fine. They’re trying hard. But at key moments, they don’t seem to try smart, and mistakes bury them.
And now they’re second guessing themselves. something goes wrong, and they falter. the textbook definition of “fragile”.
McLellan is right that bag skates is the wrong thing, especialy this time of year. Especially since it’s not lack of effort. That’s not sending a message or fixing the problem, that’s just revenge thinking. wrong idea.
Fact is, this team just isn’t clicking. In the West, there’s no margin of error, and this team is error prone. If I were to point at a single failure point, it’s the number of and timing of injuries — this team simply never got a roster set and in a rhythm. I think. Maybe.
right now, I think it’s too late. I suppose they can wake up and go on a run, but I don’t think they will. I’m not sure they should. Why cost ticket holders one round of playoff tickets? (that sound you just heard was Sharks ownership wincing). But unless this team really changes overnight (and it won’t), even if they squeak in, they aren’t going far.
I’m guessing they have company. Detroit and detroit’s goaltending looks to be joining the “what happened here?” club. I’m not seeing them go far, either.
God help whoever runs into St. Louis in the first round. they’ll need it.
I could, I guess, get up some righteous anger at the Sharks, but you know? Some years, it just never happens to plan. I think we’re seeing a glimpse of what might have happened if Havlat had stayed healthy.
I know there’s been some rumblings about the Minnesota trades during the offseason, but to be honest? I think the Sharks won those trades. Heatley/Setoguchi are at 77 points for the season, but Burns and Havlat are at 56; not that far behind, and Havlat only played 30 games. If he played 70 at close to that rate, this pair well outscored the former sharks. And heatley and seto are a combined -19 vs +14. And look at where the Sharks are in the standings vs. the wild. I’ll take what we have vs. what we gave up.
So for me, it’s about playing out the string and seeing how this team fights through the rest of the season. I don’t think sharks fans need to panic. I do think they need to realize that sometimes, an engine throws a rod, and by the time you fix it, the race is over. That’s the Sharks this year. But I’m unconvinced you need to throw out the engine or the drive for next year’s race. (but replace a few parts? definitely. But that’s for later… there’s still hockey to complain about…)
The NHL GM meetings are going on, and as usual, they’re considering rule changes.
It’s been a slow process, but it looks like hybrid icing is finally winning their approval.
Seven NHL general managers who discussed a change to the icing rule on Monday at their semi-annual meetings came away in unanimous agreement that the league should move to the type of hybrid icing now used in the NCAA and USHL.
The rule will now go to all 30 general managers over the course of the next two days and will need the support of two-thirds of them in order to be sent to the competition committee.
The idea of hybrid icing is to keep the chase to break up the icing call in the game, but in a way that removes some of the risk of the catastrophic injuries that have happened when that chase puts a player into the boards hard and fast. Think Marco Sturm, Kurtis Foster bad.
I’ve been generally supportive of the status quo, but the current proposed change makes sense, and seems to walk that compromise between doing nothing and going to full automatic icing, which bores the crap out of me in college and international hockey. So I support this change; and it’s another instance where I think the league should get some credit for taking the time to get it right when people around them are screaming for a fast “easy” decision that really isn’t.
The Brian Burke “bearhug” rule got shot down hard, again. The idea here is to allow some limited obstruction/holding in some specific situations to give defenseman an alternative to pinning a player to the boards like a bug, in hopes of limiting some of the injuries. I sympathize somewhat with Burke, but nobody seems convinced that’s the right solution — including me.
Darryl Reaugh brings up some of the other issues up before the GMs. I agree with much of what he says. But of course, not all..
1.) Elimination of the Redline Brett Hull was right. The worst, most anti-skill play in hockey, the one where a d-man slap-passes the puck to a forward just over center-ice and he angles his stick to tip the puck deep into the other end of the rink, is about 90% of what the decision to remove the redline has produced – and it suuuuuucccckkkkks.
I like the removal of the red line. there’s been discussion of putting it back to try to reduce some of the injuries we’ve seen with people flying down the ice and the inability to protect a defenseman against a physical forecheck. I don’t think the red line is the solution to that, just as nobody seems to think the bear hug is, either.
But the center-ice tip to clear the puck and avoid icing? Reaugh is right; it sucks, and it’s not helping the game. But don’t put the red line back in. Instead, force the player in center ice to take control of the puck. Use the same standards we use today for whistling down a delayed penalty. If the player doesn’t stop the puck and then shoot it down in a separate motion, then call icing on it. I definitely want to see this tip play pulled back out of the game, but I think the way to do it is to require a higher skill play to replace it, not simply put the red line back in.
2.) Trapezoidal Areas It never worked. Whoever came up with it didn’t understand geometry, or modern goaltenders, or game flow.
The Brodeur rule. And it’s time for it to go. But, we need a couple of other things here as well. One is that goalies outside the crease and behind the goal line aren’t eligible for the kind of “goalie interference” calls they get today. And they can’t be allowed to do the moving wall of goalie trick to wall off an opposing player — that should be called interference, just as it would be if a real skater tried it.
3.) Kicking Motion This needs to be rewritten to say, “…as long as the players skate never leaves the ice, good goal”
I have never liked the “distinct kicking motion” rule. it’s just too arbitrary, and it’s one of those things where you HAVE to let the war room in toronto decide. Oh, sorry. “situation room”. These kinds of situational things make it too ambiguous and open to criticism. I say, either you allow pucks going off the skates to count, or you don’t. I vote for “don’t”, but going one way or another is preferable to this “guessing intent” call.
4.) Illegal Hand Pass No one can explain to me why a hand pass should be allowed in the defensive zone only. Unless, the league secretly wants to aid defense and bridle offense, which I know isn’t the case
6.) Overtime Necessary for playoffs, unnecessary for the regular season. For the first 82 lets just play 60 minutes for two points and then, if tied, go straight to a 5-man Shootout. Save some wear and tear, and save our fans from more intermissions and confusing standings.
I’m no great fan of the shoot-out, but yeah. let’s just go straight to it.
8.) Permitted Icing During Penalty Kills A team should be fully penalized for an infraction, not ‘partially’. You can’t ice it during even strength play so why permit it when you’ve done something delinquent?! Duh.
again, yes. after all, this league IS troubled by too much scoring, right? so let’s look for some simple ways to inhibit the defenders that won’t materially impact the game.
In other news, it’s good to see that according to the data, the number of concussions in the league has flattened out. The number of man games lost to concussions has gone up, but as much as anything, this is more about really starting to understand the implications of the concussion and being more strict and careful about letting players come back — more time off and being more paranoid about their health. That also, to me, is a really good thing to see, although for the players suffering (especially Chris Pronger, who may be done), it still sucks. That, however, is what they’re trying to deal with. It seems we’re making progress here.
But again: The San Jose Sharks are chasing the No. 8 seed. The winner of four consecutive Pacific Division titles is swimming upstream to make the playoff cut this season, one year removed from a Western Conference Finals appearance — and after an offseason that saw GM Doug Wilson load up for what looked like a Stanley Cup run. What the hell happened? Who do we blame? And even if they make the playoffs, can they still challenge for the Cup? We asked a few of the best Sharks bloggers their thoughts on the matter.
Hey, the Sharks beat Edmonton. Life’s all better now, right?
Count me as not so sure. But I thought the work ethic and the attention to detail tonight was pretty good. Rom Renney ripped the Oilers after the game, but to be honest, I thought it was more about them running up against the theoretical sharks and not the recent sharks than anything his team didn’t do. The bigger question is whether the theoretical sharks are going to show up for more than 50 minutes a game every third game (or not).
So what’s wrong with the Sharks? Good question. If I really knew the answer, I’d be doing something other than writing blogs about it.
But here’s my take.
First, injuries have hurt this team more than expected. There have been enough, and key enough, that this team’s never gotten the lineup set and everyone on the same page. This is especially true on defense. Boyle playing through a broken foot early and unable to play his game well impacted this, too.
Some of the off-season moves haven’t worked out as expected. While I won’t say it was as simple as “the sharks let Ian White go and brought in Colin White” — it’s never that simple — the face is that Ian White’s doing pretty well in Detroit, and Colin White has been, well, a disappointment. Has not lived up to expectations, definitely.
And early on, when the Sharks were doing pretty well, Niemi wasn’t. Until the last couple of weeks, Niemi has struggled with timely saves. I think this got into the heads of the players a bit, and they started expecting bad things to happen; bad bounce, soft goal, bad penalty. And when they did, they collapsed and lost focus. Too many games this year where a missed play or a goal turned into two or three goals in really short order before the team got back into its groove. Lose focus, get buried.
Now, it looks like Niemi is getting back into the groove, but the team is still playing fragile. A mistake turns into not one goal, but two.
This can be a nasty thing to fix when it gets going; many times players don’t even notice it, but… you lose games because of mistakes, or soft goals. You start to expect it. That makes it a bit harder to convince yourself to go down and block that shot, so you flamingo it. Or instead of standing in front of the goalie screening him, where your kidneys get constantly crosschecked by that defenseman, you stand a foot to the side, where you’re kinda sorta screening him and the defenseman lets you, because you’re not really hurting anything.
Oh, wait. that’s “clearing the crease”, it’s not cross-checking. Because if it was cross-checking, the referees would call it. My bad.
But you get my point. When you start expecting a bad thing to happen, it can get into your head that you might as well not get that bruise blocking this shot, or go into the pain areas scrumming for a screen, or maybe you let up just enough chasing down to kill that icing. Little things, not even conscious decisions. And in this league, where everyone is so evenly matched and the margin of victory so slim, those little things matter a lot. And it is those little things that tend to manufacture good luck and good bounces, so if the players aren’t doing it, the bounces tend to go against them — and that can reinforce it.
The only way out of this is to commit yourself as a player not to NOT do the little things. To take those cross-checks, to block those shots, to gut it out. And relearn the work habits and details you as a player thought you were doing, but really weren’t.
What I liked about the Edmonton game was that the Sharks were doing those little things well, consistently.
So now we see if that’s a trend, or whether it fades again. We’ll see. But the Sharks are still on the outside looking in. and it won’t get any easier…
For what it’s worth, nobody in the Sharks locker room seemed remotely satisfied with a well-played game that didn’t result in two points. No, it was a glum place after that 4-3 shootout loss to the Dallas Stars. And, as the print edition story linked in the right-hand column, emphasized the Sharks were beating themselves up for failing to hold onto a lead in the game’s final minutes.
The good news: the last couple of games, the Sharks have been playing better. the guys brought in at the trade deadline have been definite helps. And now, they’re losing because of bad bounces instead of because their deserving to lose. That’s a step on the process a team often takes as it finds its way out of a slump.
The bad news: they’re still losing, and this still looks to me to be the Sharks team we can expect to see for a while. I’m not seeing the “okay, we’re getting on a run and we’re clearing the table” out of this team yet.
Although also on the good news side, Niemi seems to have mostly woken up from whatever nap he was taking.
This is not yet a team that has “deep into the playoffs” written on it. Nor do I see signs of that changing.
The Predators have sold out 17 games this season and have already sold out the last three Saturday games of the season. The team’s all-time sellout record is 20.
Last season, the Predators saw their revenues increase between 25 and 30 percent, and their television ratings have gone up 50 percent over a year ago and are continuing to grow.
Ever so slowly, the Predators are moving towards that magical moment when the buzz surrounding the team creates a demand for tickets that outstrips actual seats in the house.
Seemingly forgotten now that Nashville has turned it around is that at the time, many were screaming at the league and Commissioner Bettman to quit wasting energy trying to save Nashville and just hand it over to Jim Balsillie to move to Hamilton or Toronto, that Nashville was a lost cause. The drum beating was especially loud in the Canadian media where, of course, any bump in the road in an American team is a failure and the solution is to bring hockey back to Canada, where it belongs.
Speaking of air pockets, anyone take a close look at RIM recently, and what a good job Balsillie’s doing running it? Oh, wait. RIM fell apart, and Balsillie was replaced as CEO. I suppose in the mind of some canadian press members, that simply means he’d have even more time to be an even better owner, since he doesn’t have the distraction of a company to run and can focus more on the hockey team…
Bettman of course ignored all of this and just pushed to make the Predators work again — and now, they are. I would link to all of the press people writing pieces about how Bettman was right and they were wrong, but, well, I can’t find any. They’re too busy writing articles about how Phoenix has failed and just move it to Canada already…
So I will: good job on sticking to your guns and working to make Nashville work, Mr. Bettman. You were right about it.
Just as he was right about Calgary and Edmonton; it’s mostly forgotten that back in the days, not only did Canada lose Winnipeg and Quebec City, there was serious worry about them losing either Calgary or Edmonton (or both) as well. Bettman orchestrated changes in the finances of the league to help support and later championed changes in the CBA to help make it easier for Canadian teams to be viable. This has worked well enough that when it was clear Atlanta wasn’t going to succeed in Atlanta, it was able to move back to Winnipeg and the league has returned to that city. There are continuing rumblings about getting a team back to Quebec City at some point (a good idea, when a team is available), and even Saskatoon has popped up and expressed interest (that, frankly, is not such a good idea. Sorry, guys).
With a league with revenues as large as the NHL and as many owners and cities as the league has, there will always be struggling teams. Not so long ago, chicago was a disaster. Today, look at how well it’s doing. Nashville had problems, but the league found the right people to take it over, and now, it’s rebounding. Atlanta? the right ownership just couldn’t be found for that city, just like, in the day, nobody wanted to own the Jets and they had to move. Now they’re back.
This is typical: if you look at baseball, both the Oakland A’s and the K.C. Royals are struggling; in basketball, you have the Clippers, and Cleveland’s had trouble drawing fans for a while. Sacramento was strongly rumored moving back to Seattle (where the owners convinced the city to spend tens of millions of dollars on key arena and build a poor upgraded building, got tired of the building and demanded tens of millions of dollars to upgrade it AGAIN, and then left when seattle said no — now, a couple of groups seem on the path to building new arenas….) — a weak team is not the sign of a troubled league — necessarily.
Right now, the three big problem franchises are Phoenix (and IMHO, how Phoenix got into this lousy shape is a case study of things you shouldn’t do), and Columbus is struggling, and on Long Island, you have a team in a lousy building with poor prospects of getting a replacement built. These are problems that need work; it looks like the decision is to try to keep the team in Phoenix, if the financial issues around the arena and lease can be worked out. Glendale (where the arena is) has a rather unpopular choice: convince the local populace it makes sense to subsidize the team and eat some of the costs of the building — or lose the team to another city, and lose even more money because now the building is empty (but the bills continue). I always felt the deal in Glendale was a bad one; I’m not happy to have been proven right.
I’m not sure what the answer is in Columbus. Right now, I think the answer is patience; it’s struggling, but it can wait while people figure out what to do. I’m a lot more worried about the Islanders. Charles Wang has a real problem up there, and I just can’t see a good solution up there now — there’s a new arena in brooklyn, but it’s not hockey friendly in the same way the old arena in Phoenix, or the Thomas and Mack in Vegas, or the Key in Seattle wasn’t hockey friendly (and we’ve seen hockey in all three venues, and trust me, that footprint simply won’t work for hockey). I’m a little surprised Wang hasn’t said the hell with it and looked to sell the team to have it moved; I still think ultimately that’s what he’ll do (quebec city, white courtesy phone). And frankly, given how he was treated by the folks in Long Island, that’s what they deserve. But we’ll see.
It’s hard to see how some of these issues will work out. But what I do know is this: Bettman never does what the “easy” solution seems to be, at least to those that write about it without actually having to pay or live with the outcome think is easy. But his track record shows that the while decisions Bettman makes may not be popular in some corners, they’re typically right. And he won’t get credit for it when he’s proven right…
So who are these guys? Are they the tight, efficient defensive team that totally shut down the NHL’s most productive offense in beating the Philadelphia Flyers 1-0 on Tuesday night? Or are they the collective sieve that gave up 35 goals stumbling through a 2-6-1 trip. Give up that many goals, and you all but guarantee more losses than wins. The Sharks have 20 games — and if things fall their way, the playoffs — to provide the answer. But that “if” is what separates this season from the recent past and doubles the doubt that seems to surround the Sharks every spring.
Short answer, yes, although they are showing a distinct capability of messing it up enough to miss given how tough the west is.
Do I like the moves made at the trade deadline? Overall, yes. I like the three players (Moore, Galliardi, Winnick) Doug Wilson brought in. I think they’ll definitely help. I’m sad to see Jamie McGinn go, but he was something Colorado wanted, and I expect they’ll be happy with him. McGinn really matured this year, and showed himself to be a solid fourth going on third liner, but when his role was expanded and they auditioned him as a support player on the first and second line, that just wasn’t where he thrived.
McGinn was a player I really enjoyed watching this year. Simple play, hard play, consistent play. He reminds me a lot of Jeff Odgers (he is, actually, notably more talented than Odgers was); It would not surprise me to see McGinn play a third/fourth line role for a number of years in the league and it also wouldn’t surprise me to see him given an alternate captain position at some point. The Sharks did not give up on him or dump him, he was a value piece in the trade (unlike someone like Jed Ortmeyer).
He’s fun to watch. He brought the right attitude. He’ll help Colorado with it. Thanks for everything Jamie.
The incoming players will help the penalty kill, which we need. And hopefully make defense in general more consistent. What the Sharks really need is to get healthy; too many injuries affecting the wrong people. Losing Doug Murray hurt this team more than most folks seem to realize, and really hurt that long road trip.
I’d still play Greiss more and Niemi less, at least until Niemi shows he’s got his game back. The shutout was nice, let’s do two or three more games like that, and then I’ll relax. maybe.
The bigger question is not whether this is a playoff team, but a contender. Right now, I’m not convinced. My pick out of the west is Detroit, and I’d pick Vancouver over the Sharks right now, too. The Blackhawks are in the same “not convinced” mode as the Sharks, and I’m very wary of seeing the Kings in an early playoff round, and god help whoever meets the predators in the first round.
I just named six teams (including the Sharks) that are seriously worrying. In other words, there’s no easy first round. There’s no easy round; it’s three rounds of war to get out of the West (again). Let’s assume, just for the sake of it, that the Sharks somehow win the Pacific, and see the Kings in the first round, Nashville in the second, and Vancouver or Detroit in the western finals. Is that a set of teams the Sharks can beat in three rounds and still be able to compete in the cup final?
I’m not convinced. And if the Sharks fall to 6th or 7th in the west, and hit Detroit or Vancouver in the first round, and then have to play the Kings or Nashville, and then whichever of the Canucks or Wings they didn’t get in the first round? Good luck with that.
It’s important that the Sharks get it together and win the west, or the playoff trip is going to be beyond perilous. Even under best circumstances, winning the west is amazingly tough. and if they fall short? It’ll be more because of health issues than the trade deadline deals (or lack thereof). It’s just an amazingly tough conference — and I know fans won’t be happy at the prospect, but I’m just not convinced this is the best team in the west. it’s maybe the third best. Or even fifth, but the difference between third and sixth or seventh is really tiny. No margin of error, and this year, the sharks have been on the wrong side of that margin more often than not.
I guess we’ll see.
No, not the angst that comes with a 2-6-1 roadie. And not even the literal pain that Todd McLellan is dealing with after getting smacked with a stick early in the second period.
Because of on top of all that, on top of the fact they’ve been on the road since before Valentine’s Day, the Sharks are not flying home as planned tonight.
Mechanical trouble grounded their charter plane and they’ve all been brought back to their usual hotel in St. Paul, which luckily had not filled the necessary 40 or 50 rooms.
How about those Sharks?
Two losses to end the nasty 9 game road trip; they had a chance to turn this trip into a mediocre one, and ended up turning it into a disaster. You now have to look at this team and seriously think “given how the western conference is playing out, they could miss the playoffs”.
I can’t figure out why. the word being used by the team and players is “fragile”, and that’s true — when a mistake happens or a bad bounce, this team freaks out a bit, and suddenly they’re down a couple of goals. Niemi is off, can’t find his game; at least Griess seems to be stopping the stoppable goals.
I don’t know why this team is like this. The core players haven’t been like this in the past. They haven’t tuned out the coaches, they aren’t pissed at the GM, they are playing hard — just not playing smart. They seem (mostly) to play late parts of the game hard and intense, it’s starts that are killing them. Or in Minnesota, a good start, but they had about 3 minutes in the third where they gave up a couple of goals. They don’t play 60 minutes of good hockey, and playing 45 minutes kills in this league.
I said earlier in the week I expected Wilson to make a trade to shake up the chemistry. I’m more convinced now something needs to be done. The scary thing is that I’m not sure the coach or GM knows why things are off, or how to fix it. The players definitely don’t — they seem mystified as to why they’re this way. It’s not lack of interest or effort. It’s lack of sharp focus and execution. And that’s not necessarily easy to fix.
Maybe a shinto priest for an exorcism. If things weren’t bad enough, tonight the coach gets brained by a stick and knocked out (thank god is wasn’t WORSE than that, but there were five minutes there when I was wondering if this team had stressed him into a heart attack), and now, the plane breaks, and they can’t even get home until tomorrow. So even the hockey gods seem pissed at the Sharks right now.
Laurie turned to me tonight and said “I am so glad we don’t have season tickets this year, because if we were paying $100 a seat to watch this hockey, I’d be really pissed”. And she’s right. I miss the folks we used to sit around; I don’t miss dragging my butt to the arena 35 times a year and all of the disruptions that imply — and I don’t miss being in the arena for the games. I do still love the team and the game, but I’m really enjoying being able to not worry about it until game time, turning on the TV, and if they mess it up, pulling out a book or the iPad and multitasking around it… And the way they’re playing hockey this year makes that decision seem even smarter….
In any event, the road trip is done. Well, the last road game is done for this trip. hopefully the team can get home. Unfortunately, they haven’t shown that “home” is a fix of this, either…
And now, to the trade deadline. I wonder who won’t be in teal on Tuesday…
The San Jose Sharks are emerging as a strong contender for Rick Nash. Sources say Columbus initially targeted Logan Couture, but was quickly told that was a non-starter. But, make no mistake, San Jose will stay in the mix until Monday’s deadline.
Nash and Sharks veteran Joe Thornton are good friends and have shown an impressive chemistry when playing together internationally that isn’t being overlooked. The Sharks would prefer an off-season deal to avoid the in-season disruption, but San Jose is keen.
Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson won’t discuss specifics on any of the deals he’s working on, but tells TSN there has been a lot of creativity suggested with a variety of his players. You can’t blame Howson for working outside the short list Rick Nash provided at the beginning of this saga.
Having watched the Sharks stumble through this road trip, and especially last night’s loss to Columbus, one thing is clear: there’s something off about the team. It’s not tuning out the coach, or not caring, or not working hard, or lack of commitment, or any of those things. But still, this team’s just not right.
And while bringing in Dominick Moore is a nice deal, that’s not going to fix it. This team, as much as anything, needs a kick in the butt and a shake of the neck, and when this has happened in the past, Doug Wilson hasn’t been afraid to do the kicking.
I smell a trade brewing. Not a spear carrier, 7th rounder going back trade, something fairly significant.
But I can’t convince myself it’s Rick Nash. I’m sure they’re talking; Wilson talks a lot, and sometimes, you talk and end up with Joe Thornton. But I’m not convinced a Nash trade would make the Sharks better. Different, definitely. Better? Not so sure. On the other hand, I don’t think this team necessarily needs to get better. I am convinced it needs to be different or they’re unlikely to shake this funk.
The problem is that a Nash deal would require some significant assets going back. I would assume, with Couture not an option, that it’d be a significant forward and a defenseman. Would you really want to give up both Pavelski and Doug Murray? Because it might take that, and a draft pick, and maybe a prospect, to do the deal. I’m not convinced.
So I tend to think Wilson will go in a different direction, and look for a top six forward. To get it, he’ll need to give up something good, and my thought is that’s going to be defensive depth. So my nominee for trade bait is…
Doug “crankshaft” murray. Not because I want him gone (not a bit), but because he’s the kind of player that will bring back a significant talent — and I see no chance the Sharks would trade Vlasic, who is the other defenseman they’re probably fielding lots of calls over. oh, they’re probably hearing about Demers, also, but I don’t think he’s going to bring back a top six forward.
Now, the short term problem is that Murray when and had his throat caved in, and it’s hard to trade someone who’s injured. But I find it interesting they sent him home, but still haven’t put him on IR. I wonder why…
So we’re close to the trade deadline. And as usual, my greatest hope is that trade deadline day hits, and nothing of importance happens, just to let us enjoy watching the crew on TSN sweat it out and read their favorite poutine recipes on the air. But it won’t happen. And this year, San Jose is in the mix, and needs to be. It’ll be interesting to see what Wilson does. I can’t see him doing nothing.
(and since I know Doug reads my blog, another piece of advice. Start Greiss for a couple of games, let Niemi take a break, and see what happens. It might be disaster, but Niemi’s a bit of a disaster right now anyway…)
The National Hockey League announced today that it will not move forward with implementation of the Realignment Plan and modified Playoff Format recently approved by the NHL Board of Governors for the 2012-13 NHL season because the NHLPA has refused to provide its consent.
“It is unfortunate that the NHLPA has unreasonably refused to approve a Plan that an overwhelming majority of our Clubs voted to support, and that has received such widespread support from our fans and other members of the hockey community, including Players,” said NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly. “We have now spent the better part of four weeks attempting to satisfy the NHLPA’s purported concerns with the Plan with no success. Because we have already been forced to delay, and as a result are already late in beginning the process of preparing next season’s schedule, we have no choice but to abandon our intention to implement the Realignment Plan and modified Playoff Format for next season.”
“We believe the Union acted unreasonably in violation of the League’s rights. We intend to evaluate all of our available legal options and to pursue adequate remedies, as appropriate.”
So the player’s union has balked at realignment, and the owners have delayed implementing.
Are you surprised? I’m not.
For all the rhetoric, this issue has almost nothing to do with realignment. It’s about jousting for power, and aligning up the forces for the next labor negotiation, coming to your sports talk shows way sooner than most fans want to believe.
If you think back to the last labor negotiation, one of the things the owners talked about was making the players a partner in the business, and everyone shook hands and said nice things to each other and signed the CBA and went back to work. And the owners have brought the players into discussion on policy — in very limited ways, practically speaking. Things like the competition committee, which has seen players resign from it because they felt it was being ignored.
I think the owners intended well here. I also think, ultimately, that we have to remember that the owners are owners, and the players are, well, employees. The players would like the owners to continue putting up the money, but the players would like to be a able to tell the owners what to do as well. Oh, sorry. be more involved in decisions that the owners are making. And since the owners are, in fact, putting up the money, they don’t seem to agree.
So this fight was inevitable. When the players brought in Donald Fehr, they telegraphs that this was going to happen. And this is really a fight over what things the players should have a say in, and what things the owners feel the owners should be able to decide on their own.
In other words, a typical battle between management and labor that will be hashed out in endless detail that will bore the crap out of even the lawyers involved before it’s done.
So I now invoke my “labor negotiation recommendation” — both sides are now in full rhetoric to sway and influence the fans and media to listen to and support their side in the upcoming labor talks, so believe nothing either side says. It’s all posturing. Take none of it seriously.
By deferring this out of next season, the NHL has removed it as a possible short term lever of influence from the NHLPA, and made it something that will ultimately be hashed out in the CBA negotiations. My prediction: the owners will get what they want. they union will get some concession for “allowing” it. Both sides declare victory. Fans will grind their teeth and wonder why the two sides can’t just work these things out — and the answer to that is “because the way labor negotiations are structures, that’s not possible”.
Remember, in labor negotiations, there is never a deal until the last possible moment, or somewhat beyond that moment, because no matter what, if the two sides come to agreement earlier than that, someone will criticize one side or the other (or both sides) that if they’d pushed harder, they’d have gotten a better deal. Therefore, as fans, simply plan for lots of screaming and yelling and threats and bluster, and then expect a last minute deal of some sort (where “last minute” may include ‘losing’ stuff that doesn’t matter much, like pre-season, games in october, or as in the case of the NBA, anything before christmas when the owners aren’t making much money, the TV networks don’t really care, and the players would rather be on the beach surfing… If you don’t think the first have of a pro sports season isn’t filler to make time and sell tickets until the real season kicks in later, think again. If the owners and players could figure out how to convince everyone to pay for 45 game playoffs, you can bet they’d do it in a minute and throw the regular season away. and the Networks would love them for it…)
This is simply the union starting labor negotiations early, and letting the owners know they don’t plan on being patsies. The owners pretty clearly knew exactly what was going to happen. It almost feels scripted from both sides, which it probably was. And now, the jousting begins.
To me, this is actually good news. If they start the arguing now instead of waiting for formal CBA negotiations to begin, I have hopes they’ll be able to solve more of the issues early, and have some idea how to generate a new CBA without any (or any significant) stoppage in the league. Better they start drawing battle lines early and figuring out how to work out the framework of the next deal early than not talk to each other and let it drag on deep into a locked-out season later.
For me, I’m going to watch this with interest. But believe almost nothing that’s said. I suggest the rest of you do that, too. Anything said from now until they sign the next CBA is going to be posturing towards the next deal, and therefore, assume they’re lying. Because they probably are…
(by the way, as far as I can tell, the NHLPA has no legal right to demand a say in this decision; this is an issue which is traditionally something the owners have had complete control over without union input. They seem to be invoking language involving travel rules, but that seems — stretching it. That, of course, is what Donald Fehr is all about. And why the union hired him.
The union could have tried to force the issue into court or arbitration, and probably would have. Given that, it makes sense for the owners to delay implementation and add it to the list of things to negotiate in the CBA. If the next labor negotiations were a couple of more years out than they are, they probably would have pushed back. And it seems obvious the owners believed this was going to happen and more or less intended to let it happen all along, given how I’m reading Bill Daly’s formal response to the union’s formal response…)
The NHL has just revealed its All-Star Game’s final six fan voting leaders and starters: Ottawa Senators forwards Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek will be joined by fellow Sen Erik Karlsson and Toronto Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf on defense, and Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas will start in goal.
It must be all-star game season again, because the fans have been voting, the players selected, and the usual suspects are complaining about it. Typically, this means some members of the press and media bitch and moan, because it seems the fans are not actually competent to choose who the fans want to see in the All-Star game. Instead, if you listen to these media people, that responsibility should be passed over to the people who really know best — the media.
No conflict of interest or enraged egos here. Nope.
My take: it’s a silly All-Star game. who cares? To some folks (mostly media types, it seems), that the fans are actually interested and motivated to get involved and vote is a bad thing. These media types seem to prefer the fans stay quiet and uninvolved, and simply do what the media tell them to do instead of think for themselves. I wonder why?
Me? I’ll take anything that gets fans involved and motivated and active and noisy. Especially since — ultimately, it doesn’t matter WHO is chosen, just that players get chosen. If they all want to band together and send the backup goalie from Muskegon? Great! At least the fans are involved. And 48 hours after the game, not only will nobody care, nobody will remember — except that backup goalie, who will have a weekend he’ll never forget.
There are some members of the media who take everything way too seriously, and need to chill out. There are other members of the media who simply look for any excuse to find fault with the NHL and the game and complain. And there are some members of the media who seem to think they should be in charge, and we should all shut up and listen to them (hello, Ken Campbell) and just do what they say.
My suggestion: anyone who is complaining about how the voting is done for the All-Star game is a media person you should serious consider no longer reading or paying attention to.
I think the NHL has done a very good job of creating a way for fans to get involved, while limiting the problems of fan voting filling the rosters full of semi-qualified players. the current system seems to work quite well in limiting the politics and removing some of the common challenges of roster building.
But beyond that, it’s an All-Star game. A time to relax, party a bit (and let the league help their sponsors party and network), honor some players, have a good time, and not think too hard about it. Anyone who starts worrying about this like it’s the end of the world, I honestly suggest you turn off the TV that weekend and go skiing instead. Or stop listening to the media folks who keep trying to turn things like this into crises, because honestly, all they’re looking for is lazy columns that are easy to write. Or chances to write about how much smarter they are than everyone else. Either way, not the kind of stuff I feel like reading.
Me? I don’t vote for All-stars, haven’t for years. I don’t worry about who gets voted in. I don’t worry about how the team is chosen. I went to the game in San Jose, got mugged by both the mascots from Tampa, gave the Florida panther mascot some cough drops because he needed them even more than I did that year, and had a great time. And every year, I sit down and watch the All-Star game, unless I have something I want to do more. Either way, I have fun. Both ways, I take this about as seriously as it deserves to be taken.
And I suggest everyone do the same. Relax. Vote (or not). Watch (or not). and have a good time. There are serious issues in the league that deserve attention and consideration (and column inches). This is not one of them.