Bad Timing Does Not Make a Bad Rule

Rule 32.2, which is basically the “intent to blow” rule, is under fire at the moment. So we are clear on what the rule says:

As there is a human factor involved in blowing the whistle to stop play, the Referee may deem the play to be stopped slightly prior to the whistle actually being blown. The fact that the puck may come loose or cross the goal line prior to the sound of the whistle has no bearing if the Referee has ruled that the play had been stopped prior to this happening.

I can’t think of a scenario where this rule is going to be applied where everyone will be satisfied. For the most part, intent to blow the whistle is going to come into play when the goalie has frozen the puck (or frozen it enough to make the play stop), the ref loses sight of the puck, or the puck crosses the goal line. Can you think of a scenario where half the fans involved didn’t feel screwed over by the refs?

This week has seen two instances of the “intent to blow” rule applied and pucks in the net not counted as goals. It doesn’t help that the first example went against a wildly popular team with a vocal fanbase. The second occurrence was the next night, on a play that would have made the Maple Leafs the victors in the battle of the basement.

When this happens, the masses cry for the heads of the refs involved, sweeping changes to the rule book, and rant about how the league is against their team (when I hear this kind of talk, I just smile and nod, and realize that I am dealing with a nutter). Like I said, everyone isn’t going to be satisfied.

The cries have gone up. The non-skating masses who have never read the entire rule book have spoken (no, reading a rule at a time does not count, go get the rule book and read it cover to cover). It’s time to end the era if “intent to blow,” right?

Wrong. I now intend to blow your mind:

The rule is a good rule, and should stay.

Mind blown? No? Maybe?

When you read the text of the rule, all the reasons for the rule to exist are there. There is a human factor involved, and for the 59:59 of a game that the refs go unnoticed, there is no problem with that human factor. It’s that one or two seconds of indecision (or in the case of the Leafs – Canes game, about 4 seconds), those small mistakes, those little moments that the frothing fans want the entire thing blown up.

And sure, it makes for good blog fodder to be outraged, or to take the refs to task (a meme that goes back way past Al Gore inventing the internet), but it’s also generally uninformed as well. There are very few people who write about hockey who skate, play the game, or – god forbid they should intensely learn about the game – have taken a coaching or officiating course (USA Hockey and Hockey Canada provide seminars at the beginning of every season, and have plenty on manuals, guides, and casebooks for further study). I realize that there are people who can’t do these things (and I don’t mean the basic excuse making kind of can’t, I mean really physically can’t), and those people get a pass. And yes, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but this isn’t their site. Also, it doesn’t mean I am better than everyone else.

Name one sport that puts the refs in this much close contact at this high of speed with the players (and box lacrosse doesn’t count, since it’s basically hockey on grass with a ball). Basketball is a comparatively slow game, with very few scenarios in which a rule like this would be needed. Football and baseball are sports played from moment to moment. In hockey, the refs are trapped on the ice with twelve angry men who want to win at all costs. They are checked, hit with the puck, and do everything they can to get out of the way of the action while constantly monitoring the game. The speed of the game, along with the danger of being on the ice with the players, makes officiating hockey one of the most difficult jobs in sports (not to mention that they skate the entire game, unlike the players).

Here’s a simple example: How do you blow your whistle when you are falling down to the ice? A few players get tangled up with the ref, he goes down, but needs to stop play. This is a perfect example for this rule being put in the books in the first place. I bet if you tried hard, you could come up with a few yourselves.

Were these two games fine examples of the rule being applied? No, they were not. I don’t see a reason the ref in Carolina shouldn’t have blown the whistle any earlier than he did. But that doesn’t mean the rule is a bad rule. One or two applications that are unsatisfactory to the fans does not make for a bad rule.

Oh, and comments are turned off for this post. Take your ref bashing and start your own blog with it. The refs are expected to be professionals, but the players aren’t held to the same standards? Yeah, I’m not interested.

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Reading Hockey Blogs the Easy Way.

The internet is awesome, isn’t it? I mean, we have all sorts of things to keep us occupied, like hockey blogs, and hockey podcasts, and… other hockey blogs! But clicking around the internet is tedious work, and disappointing when you visit a site over and over only to find it looks exactly the same as before.

Or what if the site itself just plain looks bad, makes it hard to read (fonts too small, bad color choices, eye straining or distracting flash banners and ads), or is so chock full of advertisements that you can barely tell the ads from the good stuff. An unreadable site isn’t going to keep you coming back, even if the writing is amazing.

This post is completely devoid of hockey content, but may help a few of you. From delivering content to you automatically to making the web easier to read, use any of these tools freely available to make reading hockey blogs simpler and more enjoyable. Even the experienced among you may find something new.

If you have something that helps people read hockey blogs, feel free to stick them in the comments.

RSS:

The absolute simplest way to read hockey blogs, or find out when new content is available, is to use RSS. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication (or Rich Site Summary, but what’s the fun of that?), and it really is simple. RSS will deliver content to you, as it is updated. You don’t have to do anything special for the content to come to you. What could be easier? If you see this symbol on a website, or even in the address bar of your browser, that means the site has RSS available:

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Note that the color of the symbol may be a little different from site to site, or browser to browser, but it looks relatively the same. Click on that, and you are on your way to the easy days of reading content.

Very few blogs, podcast, or websites that are dynamically updated (as in, new content producing sites) turn off their RSS feeds. Your browser should automatically detect if the site you are on has a feed available, and will show you the feed icon, making life super easy for you.

Some sites (like my sites) put the full content of their site into their RSS feed, and some only put a summary of their content into the feed. This is at the discretion of the site owner, but even so, you know that new content is available, and don’t have to waste your time going back to a site over and over to see if there is something new.

Feed Reader:

Now that you know about RSS – and how simple it really is – what do you do with that RSS feed? Stick it in an RSS reader, of course.

And RSS reader – or feed reader – updates periodically and checks for new content at set intervals. It’s much the same as the iTunes podcast feature (you do listen to podcasts, right?) in that it brings the content to you. There are a bunch of feed readers out there, some online and some as desktop programs. There are even readers for mobile devices. Here are but a few:

Online

Google Reader – This is widely the most popular online reader, thanks to the google name. It’s also super easy to use, and has plenty of organization to keep your feeds in good shape. Best of all, it’s free. If you tell it the URL of a site you want to subscribe to, it will find the feed for it automatically, making it even easier to deal with RSS.

Bloglines – another popular choice.

Here’s a Google Search that will help you find more options.

Mac

Endo – I use Endo for my desktop feed reader. It’s easy to use, I like the organization, and it keeps things fairly organized. It’s not as well supported as it could be, but it works, and works well.

NetNewsWire – A popular choice.

Times – Not my favorite, but an interesting interface, and some people like it. Not as user friendly to set up, but once it’s set, it’s good to go.

Here’s an article with more mac based options.

PC

Feedreader – Simple and efficient. I think this is what I used when I was PC based.

FeedDemon – From the same people as NetNewsWire.

Here’s a few more from About.com.

Keep in mind that most browsers (Safari, FireFox, etc.) can act as feed readers, as can many email clients. I like using a program dedicated to the task, but with all the options you have, it’s all about how you like to read your content.

Instapaper:

Instapaper is a game changer. It’s a web based… it’s hard to describe. In fact, it’s so simple, it seems like it should have less impact than it does. But here goes.

Instapaper will save online content for you to read later. With a simple bookmarklet (a bookmark that sits in your browser and executes a function when you click it), Instapaper automatically saves the page for you to read when you feel like it, be that in an hour, a day, or a year. Think about it this way. With one click, I can save something I would normally have skipped over and forgotten, kicked to curb in a fit of tl:dr (too long, didn’t read).

This is from the Instapaper FAQ:

From a personal perspective, I appreciate great writing, but I’ve become frustrated with the quick-consumption nature of many devoted blog readers. Authors are encouraged to cater to drive-by visitors hurrying through their feed readers by producing lightweight content for quick skimming.

There’s no time to sit and read anything when you’re going through 500 feed items while responding to email, chatting, and watching bad YouTube videos.

As a result, popular blogs are now full of useless “list posts” with no substance or value.

Well-written content is out there, and we do have opportunities every day to read it — just not when we’re in information-skimming, speed-overload mode. But we can all read while waiting in long lines, commuting (although please not while driving), or sitting on the goofy chairs in the shoe area and being supportive while our wives are shopping.

The times we find information aren’t always ideal for consuming it. Instapaper helps you bridge that gap.

And how. Again, it’s amazing how a simple little button can change how you read on the internet, and how easy it is to come back to good writing. If something is too long to read in the moment, or you don’t have the time or mindset to read it right now, click the link, and move on. It’s that easy. Try it out for a while. Instapaper is free, and it may work for you too.

Readability:

This is something new I found, and it’s helping me read more and more content, with less distraction and less aggravation. Readability takes a blog page, or other websites, and strips out the BS. It formats a page to bring you only the content, and eliminates sidebars, ads, images, footers, and headers. It changes the font and background into a more readable style. You didn’t go to that website to watch ads, did you? You didn’t start reading hockey blogs so annoying flashing banners would tell you about things you could care less about, right? You don’t have to watch the videos on the sidebar, or have rollover popup ads get in your way. You don’t have to squint to read unbelievably small font sizes, or suffer through poor site design choices just to get to what you really came for. Readability is the best thing to hit my browser in a long time. And again, it’s free.

Key commands on a Mac:

Two small helpful tips for Mac users. Command + and Command – will make the font size of a website bigger and smaller. Command 0 restores it to default (that’s command plus, command minus, and command zero).

Also, for a cool trick, try command-option-control-8. That turns the screen color negative. Instead of black type on a white screen, you get white type on a black screen, which can help take the strain off your eyes for a while. The same keys change the screen back.

Free:

Everything I posted here is free. Every program, every site, every trick, it’s all free. It’s designed to help you get to the content other people are producing, and get that content easier, better, faster, and in a more enjoyable fashion.

You want to read hockey blogs, right? You want to make it easier to get to those blogs, and the people who write the blogs want you to read. Why else publish it on the web? So pick up a few tools and start subscribing. You will find that you can read more in less time, and enjoy the experience even more.

Good luck, and get to reading.

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The Perfect Third Jersey Comment

This was so spot on, I thought it deserved it’s own post.

Mark from Alaska wrote this comment about the Avs 3rd jersey:

They look like a replica of an old fashioned sweater using new technology/fabrics. I don’t buy into the fact that a sleek fabric makes a player better or faster. Constant gut-checks, love of the game and a hatred of failure makes players better…RBK doesn’t really help or assist, it only makes them look worse in the process. I’m pretty sure the goal leaders in the NHL won’t be thanking RBK for their great season unless contractually obliged to do so.

Dead on, Mark. I wonder if Sidney Crosby, poster boy for Rebook, ever read a statement thanking them for his Stanley Cup.

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Thin Air: Hockey Thoughts on a Sunday Afternoon, November 15th, 2009

Stuff that would normally go into the ether, were I still dealing with twitter.

– I went to a Spokane Chiefs game with Jason Cohen, author of Zamboni Rodeo, still one of my top five hockey books. Jason was a lot of fun, and I thank him for showing up. Now, if only the Kamloops Blazers had shown up.

– The Colorado Eagles are 7-0-1 so far this season, putting them first in the Conference with the least amount of games played. We will see what happens when they hit the road, but for now, things are looking pretty good in Ft. Collins.

– The same can’t be said for the Avalanche. You know, for all the crap Red Wings bloggers take for not writing after a Detroit loss, I am not seeing a lot of effort put into dissecting this latest blowout. Other than blaming the new 3rd jerseys, that is.

– Paul Kukla put this warning on his site the other day:

We really do appreciate you visiting all the blogs under the KK umbrella, but do want to remind you to keep your comments on the topic of the post and also to avoid the childish banter that does take place at times.

People want to read about the topic at hand, not how good you are at throwing out personal barbs at people.

There is a proper way to get your point across and then there is a way not to do it. If you don’t know the difference, then maybe KK is not the place for you. So either adjust or move on to another site.

Paul isn’t big on being criticized. But a warning like this seem kind of ridiculous when Kukla’s Korner plays host to the vitriol of Abel to Yzerman. Go figure. I support imposing control over your site, fostering the kind of community you want to have around, and moderating your commenters, but this is kind of funny. Actually, it’s really funny. Especially when the barbs thrown at Eklund are taken into account (Eklund is certainly not my favorite blogger). None of us are perfect, but come on.

– Hey, look at that. I’m on Puck Daddy: Five reasons why Avalanche blogger Tapeleg loves hockey.

– If you had a choice between these two jerseys, which would you choose? Go let Ryan Classic know, or tell me here. I’d lean towards the black one, partly because of the tie up in the front, and partly because I’d hate to spill food on the white one.

Ottawa 67S Black Ottawa 67S White

– Sure, I’d call a jersey a sweater….. if it were made of wool, designed to keep you warm, or worn by this guy.

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Anything in the EDGE system is not a sweater. Just saying.

– Here in Spokane, they have stick and puck time (ice time to work on your hockey skills) every week day. How about that, eh?

– Do you know what RSS is, or how to use programs like Google Reader or feed catchers like endo or NetNewsWire to make your life easier? Do you know about Instapaper for saving webpages for later reading with one click? Have you every used something like Readability to make the blogs you want to read easier for your eyes to handle? I’m thinking about doing a post on all of these things, to make reading hockey blogs better for you, the reader. Because what’s the point of making it difficult.

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Avalanche Unveil 3rd Jersey… Which I Won’t Be Buying

The Colorado Avalanche finally showed off their latest abomination to the hockey world powered by Reebok 3rd jersey to the world, and while it has elements of the original 3rd, it really isn’t any match.

Avs3Rdmodeled
(the picture is from Icethetics, who got it somewhere else)

Great, the Avs will be playing in a Snuggie.

Look, I’ve made no secret of my dislike to the RBK EDGE jerseys, and the Avs home and away jerseys aren’t my favorites. These? Add them to the list.

I’m really not sure what the point of having a photo negative of the previous 3rd jersey is. Perhaps it’s just to create something a little different. Or as some would put it, a money grab (remember folks, it’s only a money grab if you don’t want to buy one) For me, the maroon is the primary Avalanche color, and the old 3rd jersey was full of win. This one is blue, and lousy with it. And I do mean lousy. I’m still not a fan of the piping on the shoulders (or anywhere on the EDGE jerseys).

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Does that say Avalanche on the back of the neck? What the hell is that, a dog collar? What is the point? You know what should say Avalanche on it? The Stanley Cup. Oh, it does? Twice? Sweet.

Oh, and I like how Paul Stastny taped his socks on, like he was going to play a game. I guess old habits die hard.
I know some people have a problem with Colorado printed down the front of the old third jerseys, but I like it, and if there is any reason to like this jersey, that’s it. It’s a classy and classic look. It makes the jersey look like it belongs in a hockey rink, rather than in a shoe store. If there is one thing I am truly grateful for, it’s that Joe Sakic’s old locker is encased in glass, so this jersey will never find it’s way in. And the first person to put #19 on the back of one if these should be hit in the nose with a rolled up magazine and told, “NO!”

I think I will have to see these things first hand before I pass final judgement, but from the initial images, I am not a fan. That’s just my opinion. What’s yours?

Update: Does the fact that I like the old Avs third jersey and don’t like the new Avs third jersey make me a hypocrite? Maybe, and I can live with that.  But if you take something that works, stick it in a blender, turn that blender on high, and declare a success, I wouldn’t call that a good idea.

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Thin Air: November 5th, Late Edition

Oh yes, another night of hockey highlights. I have the Ducks – Predators game on the DVR, but I can’t get motivated to watch. I mean, the point was to see what the problem with the Predators is, but I can’t do it. Not tonight.

– T-Squared? OK, Kevin Weekes. You can call Tim Thomas whatever you like. Still, Weekes is a solid commentator on NHL On the Fly. He doesn’t do stunned-by-the-moves all that well, but then again, he speaks with authority when he has to, and like a fan when I want him to. Good job, Kevin.

– I will be losing the NHL Network next week. I can’t tell you how sad I am about this.

– I understand the reasoning behind the NHL not modifying the point system, but I don’t like it. I think I will be writing about it soon.

– The Neil hit: A study in so what? A big guy who plays the body and has speed. What’s the problem?

– The Maple Leafs are going to play the Carolina Hurricanes. Someone has to win that game, which is too bad, really. If the Canes win, the coach keeps his job, and if the Leafs win, the city of Toronto will has to spend all that money on a parade.

– The Forearm Forklift? Awesome! Get me two sets. That thing looks… sorry, NHL Network commercials. Everything a 40 year old needs.

– Anze Kopitar’s first goal of the night was beautiful. Fleury looked bad. Not this bad, but still bad:

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– If I were the Penguins, I would be hanging my head low. Way to fall apart.

– I love seeing the water bottle on the top of the net bounce. It’s a wonderful thing.

– The Weezer Snuggie? At least they haven’t sold out.

– Shootouts: fun to watch, but not worth a point.

– Attendance in Atlanta: 10,878. Most of the fans must have been sitting in the upper bowl, because they weren’t in the lower.

– Voracek: Nice hair, just kidding.

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Daytime Hockey Thoughts – November 5th, 2009

Just some thoughts:

– You know what? Your incomplete theory on why attendance is low putting the blame squarely at the fans holds no interest for me. Fleshing out real reasons with actual ideas and research does interest me. Start a flame war on your own time. I don’t care.

– I know people think Tom is insane in the latest episode of The Rink. I don’t completely disagree. But it’s certainly entertaining.

– Peter Budaj won a hockey game last night, which should put a cold chill down the thousands of Avs fans thinking he was the second coming of Typhoid Mary.

– I really need to write a new manifesto. I feel a monstering coming on.

– I have a co-worker who lives in Pittsburgh. All he can do is talk about Sidney Crosby. I would remind him that familiarity breeds contempt, but it is more pleasing to tell him how much I dislike the guy. Nut punching is not for manly endeavors, unless you are about to get stabbed in the neck.

Stabbed in the neck by a bottle, or stabbed in the back by Gary Bettman, which do you think Jerry Moyes would prefer?

– Greg Wyshynski is a good hockey writer, and Puck Daddy is a great blog, but it has to be one of the least functional blogs I have seen in a long time. We have an amazing array of tools before us as independent writers, most of which are free. Yahoo is way behind the curve. The smartest thing they did was hire a really good writer, and let him loose. But that’s it.

– I really like many of the people I met over twitter. But in the end, I had to ask myself if twitter made be a happier hockey fan. I can honestly say, it had the opposite effect. You know what makes me a happier hockey fan? NHL On The Fly.

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Thin Air: Hockey Thoughts on a November Evening

Haven’t done one if these in a long while. Here we… go:

– Phil Kessel took 10 shots on goal in a 2-1 loss to Tampa Bay, and managed to be minus one. Congrats to the Toronto media, who will ignore everything in the name of overzealous reporting. Go team!

– The Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Ducks, with Sidney Crosby stacked the pads, taking two points from the West. Which is all I ask of them. But couldn’t they have taken two from the Wild as well? What was so hard about that?

– How do you lose nine games in a row in this league? How do you only win one game in 13? Insane.

– Context is the buzz word on the latest episode of The Rink. Context is everything.

– I haven’t been following the minor leagues enough. That needs to change.

– The Phoenix Coyotes are fifth in the conference, but last in attendance (5,855 announced attendance against the LA Kings, a division rival). Can you imagine a Stanley Cup Final in Glendale? A half filled arena?

– Corey Perry is on fire, but no one notices thanks to the din of being on an awful team right now.

– I’m going to have a hard time buying the “record setting numbers” announcement at the end of the season. It’s happened every other season since the lockout, why not this one as well?

– The Calgary Flames deserved to be at the front of the Swine Flu inoculation line. If the Flames are sick, the entire economy of Calgary would crumble. After the CFL, what do they have? Is there any other excuse for the Red Mile? Bars would close left and right. People would have to read… books. Shudder.

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