Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Rant answers: Flames need fuel
By Pierre LeBrun
Lots to rant again this week. Thank for your passion! Let’s take a look:
Johnzilla92: Rant: I understand that the NHL is trying to eliminate head shots from the game and that has been evident all year long. What I do not understand is why during the Blackhawks-Canucks game last week, only one player was given a suspension. Early in the game, Daniel Sedin took a cheap shot at Duncan Keith with an elbow to the head. Later, Keith returned the favor causing Sedin to leave the game. After watching Brendan Shanahan's explanation of why Keith received a suspension, I am confused to why Sedin wasn't given a suspension as well. His hit on Keith was just as illegal as Keith's. What do you think?
My take: The NHL did take a look at Sedin’s check on Keith but felt in the end that the principal point of contact was shoulder to shoulder before Keith’s head was eventually hit on the play. Hence, no supplemental discipline. And that was the right call.
DevilHockey35: When are Jay Feaster and Calgary ownership going to admit to themselves and, most importantly, to their fans that the team needs a major overhaul? Yes, this team can compete, but not for anything more than the eighth seed. Feaster needs to trade [Jarome] Iginla and Kipper [Miikka Kiprusoff] this summer to get some building blocks for the future. They have no real assets coming through the ranks to help this team. If it wasn't for Kipper year after year, Calgary would be a perennial lottery team. When is the rebuild going to begin?
My take: I agree with you that it’s long overdue for this team to re-tool, if not totally rebuild. Based on my conversations with Feaster this season, he was giving this group one last shot and, if they failed to deliver, changes were coming. The Flames have nine expiring player contracts (six UFAs, three RFAs) so that will help Feaster in making changes. But the real discussion has to be with captain Jarome Iginla, who has one more year on his deal at $7 million for next season. Does he really want to stick around for a re-tool? There’s something to be said for playing your entire career in one town. But there’s also something to be said for having a chance to win your first championship before you retire. If I’m Flames ownership, I have Feaster have a heart-to-heart with Iginla after the season and see where he’s at.
Schnaidt20: My rant actually has to do with the the league. I am tried of all the constant changes. I understand that we are trying to appeal to everyone else but this is gettting crazy. Besides a few issues such as equipment size, (shoulder and elbow pads) the point system and realignment, nothing needs to be changed. The game is faster than ever and incredibly exciting to watch. If you guys keep making changes some may not be able to even keep up and give up on it. No trapezoid, then a trapezoid, no two-line pass, now maybe a two-line pass, hybrid icing, no hand in own zone, etc., etc., etc. How about we just let these boys play some good ol' time hockey and stop trying to put red tape all over the place. There's too many rules!!!! You hit, you shoot and you skate. Nuff said!
My take: And that in fact was the consensus when you spoke to most of the GMs in Boca Raton, Fla., two weeks ago. The game is good, let’s not play around with it too much. That’s why hybrid icing was really the only rule recommendation for next season.
Middaughsome: Can we please go to a 3-2-1 point format, or get rid of the shootout all together. It would be a shame if a team like Washington misses the playoffs, even though they have the fourth highest ROW in the East, behind only Pittsburgh, Philly, New York and Boston (tied with 36). They should really be ahead of Florida and Ottawa; although New Jersey would still be ahead in a 3-2-1 format because of their ridiculous amount of shootout wins. This is not to say Washington doesn't have other issues, but it's pretty absurd that a skills competition win is worth the same as a regulation or overtime win. Last time I checked, hockey was a team sport.
My take: Um, I think a really good-looking journalist from Northern Ontario wrote about this March 2 on ESPN.com.
agr114: When are sports writers, Burnside and LeBrun, going to put Fleury in Vezina contention. His stats are 40 wins, 2.24 goals-against average, .919 save percentage and a .769 save percentage in shootouts. Tops in the league in wins. I'm not saying he should win, I think he should be nominated though and deserves a little more attention. Obviously, Lundqvist is running away with this award.
My take: Marc-Andre Fleury is absolutely among my final five choices for the Vezina. He’s had a sensational second half of the season. Unfortunately, hockey writers don’t vote for the Vezina. That’s up to the NHL’s 30 GMs.
delpeg: The NHL needs to revisit the system in use for playoff seeding. The idea of rewarding division winners with home-ice advantage is understandable, but outdated. In a year when there are likely to be six teams (PIT, PHI, NAS, DET, CHI, & NJ) and a possible seventh (OTT) all having more points than teams seeded higher, the current system (and by extension the NHL) loses credibility. Where is the fairness for teams of the Atlantic and Central divisions? The NHL uses the argument that they want the regular season to matter when arguing against switching to a 3-2-1 point system for all games, and yet they completely ignore the results of the regular season in seeding the playoffs. Mediocre division winners should not be rewarded with a postseason advantage simply for surviving the season in a weaker division while stronger teams from stronger divisions are put at a disadvantage. If the regular season matters to the NHL as the prescribe, then fix the playoff seeding accordingly.
My take: The NHL did in fact revisit this issue -- when the 30 owners agreed on realignment in December. But the NHLPA didn’t sign on to it, so realignment is on hold until the 2013-14 season at the earliest. The league and players’ association will make this part of the upcoming CBA talks this summer.
sportz28106: When is the NHL gonna step up and actually hand out punishments so severe it will eliminate head shots? These five-game suspensions are not going to stop them any time soon (Bourque, Keith). The point of these punishments is to deter the others from doing the same. Sorry, but I don't think five games is enough for some of these hits.
My take: I agree. And I thought that’s where we were headed in preseason with the stiff suspensions handed out. To me, it’s not until you start going double-digits for head shots, like Keith’s on Sedin, that you’re going to affect greater change on player behavior in this area. Now, I will say that there are a lot of players in this league that have changed their ways since Rule 48 came into the league two years ago. Matt Cooke would be the poster boy in that sense -- players making better decisions when making body contact. Brendan Shanahan showed the assembled media in Boca Raton some examples of this during his presentation to us. But I still would like to have seen stiffer suspensions throughout the course of the season to deal with head shots.
zalger02: Pierre, why did the GMs not do away with the trapezoid? Ilya Bryzgalov made a fantastic outlet pass the other night against the Canadiens all the way to Jaromir Jagr on the blue line. Jagr passed it to Danny Briere as he whizzed by with speed and wham-bam they scored a goal, all because the goalie noticed the other team could be caught on a line change after a sloppy clearing attempt. He had to go out in front of the goal line to do it though. Remind me again why Bobby Clarke doesn't like goalies playing pucks?!
My take: Just not enough traction to gain the support needed in Boca Raton. But I will say it’s growing towards that end. It wouldn’t surprise me if within the next five years the trapezoid is gone.
dtowner1081: Get ready for the classic, "My team does not get enough love rant." The Blues have the most points in the NHL, and are one of the stories of the season. Yet every night when I check ESPN mobile, do I get a headline? No, I have to go to the scoreboard just to get to get the AP summary. We Blues fans have been loyally waiting for a year like this since the lockout, yet all I read about are teams in the inferior Eastern Conference. I know it is trite, but isn't it time to give the Blues some love?
My take: Well my friend, get ready for yours truly beginning his playoff travel in St. Louis for the first round of the playoffs. I look forward to it. The Blues deserve our attention.
ericsando: Is there any chance the NHL will start enforcing the rules? There are a dozen uncalled interference penalties per game as defensemen ride forechecking forwards into the boards. They call slashing only when a composite stick cracks but let players hack the legs of other players all game. It's getting crazy as some games go by with one or two power plays. I can only imagine what will happen when the playoffs start this year. Last year's finals were a disgrace as the refs had NO control over the games and the series devolved into the Bruins bullying their way to the Cup. In the post lockout NHL, talent is supposed to be king.
My take: More than a few GMs I spoke with in Boca Raton two weeks ago privately complained about this. There are some GMs who believe the standard has slipped a little. On the flip side, another GM told me this is where it should have ended up all along. All the penalties being called in the first two years after the lockout slowed down the flow of the game. After all, he said, this is still better than the pre-lockout, obstruction-filled hockey. While I agree with that, I think this issue will rear its ugly head if a team feels it lost out in the playoffs because of it. Stay tuned.