Monday Night Musings
On a slow Monday night, I figured I'd offer my .02 on various things going on in the NHL right now.
- One new rule that I love, but has gone mostly uncovered by bloggers alike thus far, is the intentional icing rule, which says that if a player intentionally ices the puck (as determined by a linesman), all five players on the ice for his team must remain on the ice for the faceoff that follows it. The only chink in the rule is that it is up to the discretion of the linesman and is not black and white. That said, I do think it will cut down on tired players simply icing the puck to get off the ice, which will only increase the pace of the game, minimizing the stoppages. It seems like a few players are having a difficult time adjusting though, because last night, more than once I saw a player do it and then head to the bench, only to be stopped by an official and told they have to stay out there.
- As well, it looks like the NHL is caught between a rock and a hard place as to what to do after the shootout. In the first couple pre-season games, they put a zamboni out after the third period (or overtime if it was necessary) to make sure the ice was good for the shooters. However, fans complained, understandably, that it interrupted the flow of the game and took too long. So they obliged, and simply sent out the ice crew to squeegie it up a bit. The result was bad ice for the shooters, as in a lot of highlights I’ve seen.
- Speaking of the shootout, one fear I have is that we will see it so much, the novelty will wear off quickly and it too will become a mundane aspect of the game. Perhaps part of the reason fans wanted it so much was because they didn’t have it. I do know one thing, it significantly effects how exciting a penalty shot is. Previously referred to as the most exciting play in hockey, it was pretty ordinary last night when Darcy Tucker took one against Dominik Hasek (as Tucker seemed as excited by it as the fans). In Saturday night’s pre-season game against the Penguins, there were 13 shooters needed to settle that match-up. In a year from now, will we be ho huming what is supposed to be a major part of the “new” NHL?
- A lot has been made about how fans will stay away from hockey, angry at the league and it’s players for the lost season. Thus far, there seems to be no evidence this will be the case. Here in Ottawa, the Sens sold out their first pre-season game ever last night, with over 19,300 packed into the building. It’s expected the Thursday night game against the Penguins will sellout as well, and the second to last pre-season contest, against the Montreal Canadiens on October 1st, will be close to capacity too. But this isn’t just an Ottawa thing. According to a story in the Sports Business Journey (via Kukla’s Korner), season ticket renewal rates are already 3% of where they were on opening night on the 2003-04 season.
- Is John Davidson off his rocker?
Then you have other teams like Ottawa, San Jose, Calgary, and Vancouver who didn't make a lot of changes.
Ottawa didn’t make a lot of changes?!? All they did was fire the head coach and his entire staff (and a coach who’s tenure with his team was the longest in the NHL at that), trade their highest scorer, trade their #1 center, trade their #1 goalie, sign a new first ballot Hall Of Famer #1 goalie, and hire a coach who hasn’t been behind the bench in over five years. But yeah, they’ve been pretty quiet since the last time the puck was dropped.
- With yet another hurricane ravaging the southern U.S., it’s nice to see one NHLer who’s doing his part:
Robitailles open their home to Katrina victims
LOS ANGELES (CP) - Kings veteran Luc Robitaille and his wife Stacia have opened their home to two families who were left homeless by hurricane Katrina.
The families, one from New Orleans and the other from Mississippi, have moved into the Robitaille's second home near Park City, Utah. They will be relocated to an area of their choice with the help of Shelter for Serenity, a hurricane relief project started by the Robitailles.
"This is something I had to do after seeing all the devastation," Robitaille told the Los Angeles Times. "If I was out of hockey and nobody remembered my name, I'd be doing this. If my name can help people in some way now, then that's even better."
- A heads up to sports highlights hosts: Brian Pothier is pronounced Poth-e-er, not Poth-e-ay, and Andrej Meszaros is pronounced Mez-are-os. But I don’t have to look too far for a local offender, as the P.A. man at the Corel Centre last night was saying Brian Bochenski all night. You’d think he would’ve had it right by the time he announced Bochenski as the game’s first star, having said his name five times previously, but nope. Something tells me he’ll be saying it enough this year that he’ll have to have it right.
- While on the topic of sports highlight shows, is it too much to ask that we see all the goals scored? Maybe I’m too demanding, as I understand that September, with the MLB season winding down, NFL football heating up, and the NASCAR year climaxing, it’s pretty busy, but I want to see every puck that goes in the net. At least of the Canadian teams and other major match-ups. Yes, even in the pre-season dammit.
- Martha Burk: shut up. Go back to Augusta. No one cares what you think. You’re a joke, yet you’re the only one who doesn’t seem to be in on it. As for the ad itself, it’s more boring to me than offensive. But being that I’m in Canada, it’s not as if they have to do much to sell me on the game, so it’s probably not even fair for me to offer an opinion. I doubt this is what will get someone in Miami to turn into OLN or head out to a Panthers game, but what do I know.
- Lou Lamoriello finally pulled the trigger and dealt Jeff Friesen to the Capitals today. Friesen is highly underrated and will help a young team with his veteran presence. I’ll always remember him for scoring the goal that kept the Senators out of the 2003 Stanley Cup finals, where they would have certainly slayed the Mighty Ducks to win Lord Stanley. Yes, I’m still bitter over two years later.
- Jeremy Roenick’s rant against Denis Gauthier and the hit he throw on JR raises an interesting question: should players take it easy (or easier) on each other in the pre-season? I certainly don’t think so. Though tickets are at a reduced price, fans are still paying their hard earned dollars to see these games and deserve to observe everyone on the ice giving it 100%, which includes physical play. Some might counter that by saying since tickets are less than half price during the exhibition season, players should be able to get away with only giving 50%, but I think the reduced price is as a result of the game being ultimately meaningless. Roenick also implied that because of his tenure in the league, he should be shown some respect by guys like Gauthier and not hit that way. This poses another issue: should a veteran be given an easier pass at any time, pre-season or in February? And finally, Roenick said that because of his concussion history, Gauthier should’ve known better. To me, that carries no weight. If he’s on the ice, he’s fair game. If he’s got 11 previous concussion and is one hit away from being a vegetable, don’t step onto the ice. The reality is that the pre-season may be meaningless for a lot of players, a way to get in shape for the games that do count, but for a lot of the others, it’s a way to make an impression, especially in the case of young players vying for a job with the team. Or with a player like Gauthier, who’s with a new team and is hoping to make them feel like their move was worthwhile.
- Speaking of the pre-season, one aspect I’d like to see brought back is some kind of pre-season series. Back during their early expansion years, the Senators and Washington Capitals would play in a series called the Capital Cup, which was a three game series between the two teams. It even had a trophy, though I can’t recall any championship parades in early October. Not that Ottawa was good enough to win the series back then. But I think it might be beneficial to see this brought back. The obvious scenario would be to do with rivalries already in place: Ottawa-Toronto, Montreal-Boston, Colorado-Vancouver (or Colorado-Detroit), Calgary-Edmonton, New York-New York, Philadelphia-New Jersey, etc. Or they could go the opposite direction and try and start rivalries with this method, along the lines of Ottawa-Buffalo, Toronto-Chicago, Los Angeles-San Jose and so forth. The Senators play the Penguins three times this pre-season anyway. Why not make it worth a little something?