So I read an article last week that started off something like “The look on his face said it all. As Tony Clark answered question after question by reporters, you knew what he wanted to say, but just refused to say the words. The room was dark and ominous. A child’s laughter could be heard in the distance”. Something along those lines anyway. I don’t write that way you may have noticed. I basically write every piece the exact same way. Try to be something interesting/humourous/so stupid it’s kind of funny, in the first paragraph and then get right into it. The point here is this is sports. So many of these guys writing on sports are much more worried with being writers than informing and educating people about what is going on. When I read someone’s stuff, I couldn’t give a damn about how it’s laid out. Let’s get to the point, get to the facts, get to the opinion’s, and quit wasting my time trying to script your movie. So that’s my “opening” this week, me being pissed off about how most people do this.
Now on with act II….
My picks went 0-5. Should I be anything surprised? Set aside that they haven’t been good since October, look at the standings. A damn expansion team is first overall. Jersey is battling for first in what’s supposed to be the toughest division in hockey. The two time defending champs are a serious threat to miss the playoffs. The Jets are fighting for first in what actually is the toughest division in hockey. The Blackhawks all of a sudden look like an average team (mind you, since Corey Crawford went out who was having a Vezina caliber season). The hottest team in that division? The Colorado Avalanche have now won nine in a row. That team has about five NHL players up front, two NHL defencemen, and currently are running with Jon Bernier in goal and have won nine straight. Teams like Washington, Boston, St.Louis and San Jose were fully expected to fade and instead they’ve either stayed the course or improved. And of course the Oilers are the biggest disappointment in the league. So this season is officially ASS BACKWARDS!!! I could beat myself up over my picks all day, but it’s just a symbol of this season. Everything that should be happening, isn’t happening. We might be witnessing the most bizarre season in NHL history, definitely since 2006.
Another moral boosting victory for the Flyers Ethnic Club last night on home ice. The pre game blockbuster that sent John Sloman and Casey Phipps to the Marwayne Imperials in exchange for two beef n cheddars, a medium curly fries and some BK chicken fries paid off in spades. The trade really loaded an already full Imperials roster and left the ethnic club depleted, yet the Flyers managed to gut out tight defensive struggle. Kayne Rowley showed why some have compared him to a young Dana Murzyn as he anchored the D, while the number one line of the Sedin twins and Sam Muhammad Sayeed produced the majority of the offence, and once again it was Tyler Campbell (I’m still him) coming through in the clutch with the GWG. Flyers will be taking their show on the road for two this week, Wednesday night at the Multiplex, then back to Dewberry for a rematch with the Rusty Mustangs. With the possibility of chicken or pizza being brought for snacks Wednesday, another two points is a virtual lock.
Back to less serious notes…
I might do a piece on this later in the season, but I’ll do the short version today. And again I’m going to bitch about the mindset this league actually has. Let’s run down the list of the unwritten rules which overrule ACTUAL written rules in the NHL:
- If a player is so good that he draws penalties nearly every shift, then the unwritten rule is to ignore all of them except the blatant ones. The theory is that it’s better to avoid slowing down a game rather than allowing your star players to shine.
- Teams who have a reputation as a “defensive” team are allowed to get away with more because “that’s how they play”.
- Players with the reputation of being a pest or chicken shit instead of being targets for officials are instead rewarded more and more as years go by because again, “that’s how they play”.
- Teams who are on the PK have immunity from being called for tripping, holding, slashing, hooking, cross checking, interference or boarding because putting a team down 5 on 3 “wouldn’t be fair”. Of course nothing can be done about high sticks or puck over glass penalties because they “have to call those ones”.
It’s just amazing to me, and I’m probably missing a bunch more. The reason behind all of these is because “we want to let the players decide the game”. Well, then why do you have rules in an actual rule book that counter this mindset? Why don’t you want the most skilled players to be dominant? Why are you rewarding teams who have less skill? Why are you promoting playing like a chicken shit and doing things like diving and making dirty plays? Why are you helping out teams who are on the PK? You’re not allowing the players to decide shit, you’re giving weaker players and weaker teams a massive advantage. The logic of the people looking after the rules and overseeing the officials is just asinine. And they ACTUALLY believe that this is better for the product! The fact that the owners haven’t figured out yet that these people are hurting the league and there for hurting their investments really blows my mind. If I’m coaching a team or running a team I’m demanding, not asking, my players to dive every opportunity you have and to challenge the officials all game to make calls. Hook, hold, trip, interfere, slash, etc. because these guys don’t want to make calls. And the more often you do this, the less they’ll call because their goal is very literally to call as little as they possibly can to meet their goal of keeping the game moving. If the league is going to continue to be a joke at running things, then players and teams may as well take full advantage of it.
The whole reason I started giving that shit thought this week was the Andrew Cogliano situation. I’m probably on an island here, but I found that to be an absolute joke. Not the fact that he got suspended, the fact that he was completely made out to be a total victim in all of it and that people around the league were actually suggesting he shouldn’t have been suspended because of his iron man streak. FUCK RIGHT OFF. Another example of how their is this “make it up as we go” culture in the NHL. Thankfully the league stuck to their guns for once and suspended a guy based on his actions and not how it affected him personally. So there was this outcry of support for Cogs, a tearful interview, and video tribute to him. Like, this ACTUALLY happened for a guy because he got a two game suspension. If the guy blocks a shot and it breaks a bone in his foot, nobody says shit. “It was a heck of a streak, what a shame it had to end” and that would be it. Instead, our soft as shit culture took over and it was made out to be as if the guy died….literally. When Cogs retires, who in the hell is going to remember this if nobody says a word about it? If he had got suspended for two games at the 237 game mark, and then gone onto play another 800 straight would we have then said “oh man, if only he hadn’t been suspended!!” No, we would say he had an incredible streak of his own. And if he continues doing what he’s been doing, playing in every game and ends up with another streak of say 200 games, who the hell will care about a suspension? He’ll have played in 1,030 straight games which he was eligible for.
Last week I wrote a lot on Darnell Nurse. This week I have to talk about Jesse Puljujarvi, and in a way the two are really similar. Both have had the knock of having “no hockey sense”. This is just a lazy narrative that “hockey people” have rolled with forever. With some players, they’re simply so talented when they’re coming up that they never have to think the game. So when they get to the league and can’t get by on their talent alone, they get that label of having no hockey sense. If a player is an incredible skater but never has to go full out, does this mean he’s not a good skater? My theory has been that if a player is intelligent that he’ll figure it out. And this is why I can’t for the life of me figure out why the league doesn’t do IQ testing at the draft combine (a Wonderlic test like the NFL does). If a kid has a high IQ, I’m betting he’ll be able to figure it out. Nurse is starting to do that, and I’ve always said what I loved about him the most was his intelligence, all the while many people without knowing just how smart of a kid Nurse is wanted to label him as having “no hockey sense”. ANYWAY, Puljujarvi has gotten this same reputation through his struggles. Now with him, it’s tougher to gauge how intelligent he is given the language and lack of any kind of educational sources to go off of like with Nurse (OHL scholastic player of the year in 2013). But it sure looks as though the whole “lack of hockey sense” theory is wrong with him too. In my mind, it’s just a matter of gaining confidence. He had it playing a weak team like the Canucks on Saturday, and even being the best player on the ice you can still see so much he can improve on which would take him to an elite level. He still doesn’t drive the puck to the net. And to me, that’s a bit like McDavid shooting more in that once Puljujarvi starts driving it to the net it’ll open up so much more and he will start backing defenders off. A lot of his development will depend on his work ethic (which I’ve been told from an actual source…yes, I somehow have a source on this…is very good) and determination. If he has those traits, the sky is very much so the limit with him. I’ve said before, he has Rick Nash type ability. His one timer still isn’t nearly developed (but I love that he’s not afraid to still try it), skating should improve the stronger he gets, the vision will improve dramatically the more comfortable he gets, it’s ridiculous how good this kid could end up being. Not saying he’s going to get there, but it’s sure getting intriguing watching the rapid growth he’s made this season.
Of course the big news around the Oilers yesterday was Paul Coffey. Man, just another example of how this organization is shady and shouldn’t be trusted by their fans. On the surface, it looks like a harmless hire. Every team should have a player development coach, if not a few (and yes, the role they described he’ll be filling is of a player development coach, not whatever they’re calling it). But it just feels like Katz can’t get enough of the 80’s roster back in the fold. And what qualifies Coffey to take this role anyway? He’s 56 and has been out of the league for 16 years now. He’s been coaching, but not at anything of a high level, it just feels like such a BS hire and that something really shady is going on that they’re going to drop on us at a later date, much the same as when Craig MacTavish was brought back in the 2012 off-season. A year later he was the GM.
As for the team, they played one game against a shitty Canucks team on Saturday. I don’t think much has changed since the last time I spoke on the matter. But like I said last week, they have a chance to make things interesting again in this stretch. Too tall of an order to get in the playoffs, but I’m sure fans would take a run similar to what Tampa Bay had late last season at this point.
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