Thin Air: Commitment to Winning-ish

– Interesting article from Mark Masters of TSN (which I found via Kukla’s Korner) about Alex Semin. The basics are that Semin isn’t acting like the stoic coach-killer enigma he was widely reported to be. He’s contributing and seems to be… happy. Is that possible? Sure it is. Could it be that, considering the steady decline of Alex Ovechkin, that the real problem wasn’t Semin at all? It could.

Greg Wyshynski of Puck Daddy wrote that he feels refs should be called publicly on the carpet for the mistakes they make in the game, that any discipline they receive should be made public. I couldn’t disagree more. I can’t see any good reason for this, other than for fans to feel some sort of retribution to a ref and to shame the ref into calling the game “better.” I have news for you, and this might not be news if you have been in a work situation where shame was used to try to motivate or change a person into working differently: it doesn’t work. Much like the way that discipline is already handed out, knowing the outcome won’t make the fans as a whole any happier. They will only complain that a certain punishment was too much or too little.

– I am an unapologetic ref apologist. Sue me, I don’t care. I have read the USA Hockey officiating guides, taken the course, gotten my officiating card (once), and learned a lot more about what refs do. Have you? I’ve put the challenge out there to read up on the subject, and I don’t know a single person to have taken it up. I can’t imagine what people are afraid of. They will read the worst online dreck day after day, but not something that would make them better and more educated hockey fans? Trust me, it will change how you see the game and how you see refs. There is nothing wrong with that.

– You know who I feel bad for? Matt Cooke. No, really. Anything the guy is near that turns out bad is suspect in the eyes of the fans. If he walked near a puppy, people would be surprised he didn’t kick it. If a man in Boca Raton falls off a boat, Matt Cooke must have, all the way from Pittsburgh, found a way to push him. So when Cooke’s skate comes down on the back of Erik Karlsson’s leg, the initial thought from Johnny Fan was he must have done it on purpose. I would guess Johnny Fan doesn’t skate. But it’s carried over to the owner of the Senators, who wants Cooke run out of the league. It’s probably emotions getting the best of him, but Eugene Melnyk will hopefully think better of what he said. He hasn’t exactly stopped the paychecks of some of the less savory players he has employed over the years. Chris Neil ring any bells? I’ve been working with a few performers lately who are trying to move on from the past they have been pigeon-holed in. Matt Cooke seems to be trying to do the same thing. No one else wants to let him.

– Speaking of refs and skates, how about the overtime loss for the Colorado Avalanche against the Phoenix Coyotes? What a loss that was. Greg Zanon tries to hard around the puck from behind his own net, the puck bounces off the skate of the ref in the corner straight to Kyle Chipchura who passes the puck to an uncovered Shane Doan, and the rest is history. The initial reaction from fans was to kill the ref, but not I. No, like I said, I’m a ref apologist. So I can see that he was in the right position, and as he doesn’t have the powers of levitation, he couldn’t raise both skates from the ice at the same time. The ref, it turns out, is part of the playing surface. So yes, these things happen, and the ref probably was embarrassed by the whole thing. But as skaters know, floating is never an option.

– Speaking of Greg Zanon, he should shave off that beard until he is useful again. I’m not impressed with his play. And speaking of unimpressive defensemen, he was paired with Matt Hunwick in the Avalanche’s 4-3 shootout win over the Minnesota Wild. Both were -2 on the game. I hope they have eyes in the backs of their heads, because that was the only way they could see the play at times (you see, they were facing the wrong way and… oh, nevermind). Think that pairing will happen again?

– Doesn’t it suck to be a first overall pick in the NHL? No, really. You are expected to turn around a franchise on your own (and that’s often the expectation of the fans), or you are going to be mired in suck for a long time. Rick Nash is out of that situation finally, and how long until we see John Tavares leave the Islanders for the same reason? Does he have a no-trade? Because I would be waiving that as soon as possible. When your team brings in a Stanley Cup winning goaltender with the hope that he never plays so they don’t have to pay him but get the cap hit, you should be questioning the team and management’s commitment to winning. Is this the kind of team you would ever want to trade Rick DiPietro from? I doubt it.

– It looks like I will be breaking my rule of not going to the Pepsi Center this Monday afternoon. I wouldn’t be going if the ticket weren’t free, and I wouldn’t be sitting with my podcast partner Jay Vean. I expect to hate every minute of it. :-)


  1. HockeyPhool says:

    An unapologetic apologist? I cannot wrap my mind around that.

    Nonetheless, I find myself agreeing with your words. Nice post!


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