Cross Checks: The Rant Blog
I continue to be amazed at the level of angst among our puckheads in the rant blog. Let's take a look.
jlabelle120586: Anyone who is against fighting in the NHL needs to watch the fight between Cam Janssen and Brian McGrattan in the first period of Saturday night's Devils-Preds game. The Devils are down 2-0, and looked terrible getting there. Janssen challenges McGrattan and proceeds to get hammered for the first 30 seconds of the fight. But being the guy he is, Janssen hangs in, waves off the linesmen and battles for almost another 2 minutes.
By the end, both players have huge smiles on their faces as they pound each other with all they strength they have left. When neither guy can lift an arm anymore, they put down the fists and skate to the locker room, to thunderous applause from the fans and their teams. It was beautiful and it was 100-percent hockey. Take something like that away and it kills the sport.
My take: I will never question the fact that a fight can change the momentum of a game, ignite a team and certainly entertain the fans. That's 100-percent true. However, as the years go by, my growing concern is a player won't get up off the ice one day. I want to avoid that kind of tragedy. Just like the players are faster than ever and bigger than ever, they also punch harder than ever. I used to love the fisticuffs in the NHL; I wrote about them all the time as a younger reporter. But now I fear the worst. I also disagree that taking out fighting would "kill" the sport. Was the 2010 Olympic hockey tournament that bad?
BrianB0422: I have to take issue with your article claiming that the Pens/Caps game was "marred" by the Asham/Beagle fight. Not liking fighting is one thing, but using the fight to minimize what was an AMAZING game is definitely an injustice. I personally enjoyed the fight, the KO and the showboating afterwards, but can understand if someone didn't. I certainly did not enjoy your tunnel vision pertaining to the matter.
My take: I did four radio hits the day after the Caps-Pens game. All four radio hosts asked me about the Arron Asham-Jay Beagle fight, none of them asked me about what a great game it was (which it indeed was). I think I made my point here.
meatbomb2003: Dallas draws 7900 for a game, not a word about relocation. So for all you ignoramuses saying the Thrashers move was due only to poor attendance, it wasn't. It was due to terrible ownership who never wanted a hockey team in the first place. But good luck to the boys in Winnipeg. I won't stop being a fan of most of them.
My take: You don't hear relocation talk for the Stars, despite their abysmal attendance this season, for two reasons:
1. Vancouver businessman Tom Gaglardi has already put in a bid to buy the team through the bankruptcy court process and he wants to keep the team in Dallas.
2. Dallas is a better hockey market than Atlanta with a more proven track record. What has killed ticket sales recently is the ownership situation, but this is a market that has proven in the past it can sell out for hockey.
gladius710: Funny that the picture of the "send your rants in," blog is a picture of the Avalanche, because that's just what I wish to rant about. Kinda upset with the lack of hype around my boys in Denver. Even after we solved our goaltending issues this offseason, the Avs were still ranked extremely low in the power rankings ... I am just wondering how long it is going to be before people start noticing that when this team doesn't give up 10 goals per night, their young offense is going to bring lots of wins. The avalanche are being very overlooked right now but I think they will turn heads pretty soon here.
My take: Well, well. Guess that makes me your favorite hockey writer ever. My Avs story from Monday afternoon. The big test for this team, tied for the second youngest in the NHL, is to prove it can do it for 82 games. Young teams tend to exaggerate slumps into bigger, longer losing streaks, especially when injuries are factored in. The key for these kids is to prove they have the mental toughness to grind it out.
bluebucks04: I'm a CBJ fan. My team is horrible. Our 2 best years were the year we finished 7th in the west and got swept in the first round and the lockout year. Nobody in this city wants to buy season tickets and the public bought the stadium to keep a losing team here so we can watch them be mediocre at best on a good year. Our draft picks fizzle and our free agent signings hate us making nobody else want to sign here. We are most likely the most forgettable team in all 4 of the major sports. Why am I a Blue Jackets fan again?
My take: And now, Jeff Carter has a foot injury. When it rains, well, you know the rest of it. The Jackets have one of the league's highest payrolls. Something's going to give in Columbus at some point this season if there isn't a turnaround. You don't spend that kind of money to be last in the league. It starts in goal; the team needs to get more saves from Steve Mason.
IcemanSabre: Regarding realignment: Why is it so difficult for sports leagues to think outside the box? With the NHL being a much more East-team-heavy-located league, isn't a 3-conference setup a lot more logical than a 2-conference-split? Think of all the time-zone issues that would be resolved and how teams like the Red Wings, Jackets, Preds, & Stars would all be appeased instead of just one.
West Conf-Pacific: SJ/LA/Ana/Pho/Van, -Plains: Colo/Edm/Calg/Win/Minn
Central Conf-South: Dal/StL/Chi/Det/Nash, -North: Cbs/PIt/Buf/Tor/Ott
East Conf-South: Fla/TB/Car/Wash/Phil, -North: Mon/Bos/NYI/NYR/NJ
Play home and home against teams in other conferences (40 games), 4 vs In-conference/non-division teams (20 games), and 5 vs Division teams (20 games) with 2 extra games to play with. This way you keep the distances and time zone shifts down for the majority of games, so fans can watch their teams at a reasonable time and players have more consistency too. Plus, fans get to see every team come to their city and play at least once.
My take: Actually, to go back to your opening sentence, it's the other way around. The league has in fact thought out of the box on realignment, but it was met with resistance from the board of governors when realignment was discussed Sept. 20 in New York. You see, it takes a two-thirds majority from the board to approve any realignment. The league privately supports the idea of going to a four-conference set-up, which it believes would better alleviate geographical concerns, but the majority of governors pushed for the current six-division format (with a few changes) to remain.
We'll see what prevails Dec. 5-6 when the board votes on realignment, but the prevailing feeling amongst most governors is to fix the Winnipeg issue without making too many drastic changes. This is far from over. There is an incredible amount of discussion/lobbying going on behind the scenes.
Ludlumtc: With this young season under way, the complaint I have so far is the scheduling. What is the nhl brass thinking about when they draw up this schedule? Teams play back to back and then don't play for a week or they play every 3-4 days. Why not make the schedule more conducive that we're not playing hockey in June?
My take: We had a few schedule rants this week. I contacted a league official and he passed along the following:
"The schedule configuration and matrix is not dissimilar to previous seasons; the league constructs the schedule based on home dates that teams provide; most teams will have a multi-day break at some point in the season."
The rant blog is back and you didn't disappoint with your level of rancor. A reminder that this forum is not a traditional mailbag where you ask me questions. It's for ear-piercing rants!
Let's take a look at the opening week rants, and thanks again for making this a fun forum.
SgtDoetsch: I feel like so much of a big deal is made about the Coyotes attendance, yet the national media in both Canada and the U.S. fail to see how teams like Dallas do just as poorly. Looking at Monday night's game between Dallas and Phoenix, there was an announced attendance of 6,306 (34-percent capacity). The game between the New York Islanders and Minnesota was at 11,278 (69.2 percent), and the game between Columbus and Vancouver was at 9,187 (50.7 percent). My question: Would you say the lackluster attendance in these cities demonstrates that they are not hockey markets, like so many have said Phoenix is not? If not, then why only Phoenix?
My take: SgtD, actually the Dallas attendance figure is something I brought up in several of my TSN radio hits over the past week, so it's not being ignored. But the reason the Phoenix attendance issue is receiving more attention is because the team remains a possible candidate for relocation unless new ownership is found by January.
The Stars aren't going anywhere; they've got a billionaire in Tom Gaglardi, who already has signed a letter of intent to buy the team but is waiting for the bankruptcy court proceeding to run its course (other suitors can also bid on the team). While the Stars will no doubt suffer at the gate this season because of the ownership situation that's affected the team the past two years, help is on the way, which is why it's not as much of a "story" as Phoenix.
dstars4400: How on earth can almost every single "expert" predict the Stars finishing near the bottom of the entire NHL? I mean sure, it's pretty easy to say from an outsiders point of view. "Oh they lost Brad Richards, they're done". That statement couldn't be any more wrong. The fact is, this team finished with 95 points in the best division in hockey and they WILL make the playoffs this year. This team is better and deeper than the year before. Souray is looking like the steal of the offseason while Ryder and Fiddler are playing out of their minds. Please justify why the Stars will finish in the basement without saying the name "Brad Richards".
My take: Well, I picked the Stars to finish ninth in the West, just outside the top eight, so I guess I'm not one of the experts you're referring to. I debated long and hard about picking them eighth because, after spending some time with them during training camp, I truly got the sense they're a team that was going to surprise people. Yes, they lost Brad Richards, but they used his salary void to add six more players and added great depth. Jamie Benn is a rising superstar, in my opinion. Sheldon Souray has a chip on his shoulder. I also believe the Stars will prove critics wrong this season.
dannyformo: The ice is absolutely TERRIBLE at the Coliseum. Over two games so far, both Islanders games amassed one of the lowest total shots and goals. The puck cannot settle and is bouncing on medium to long passes. I feel bad for the visiting team more than i do watching the Islanders not be able to work (and it's not just the ice that is melting their offense).
My take: Yet another reason to blow this building up and build a new one! Enough is enough; the building is porous and Islanders fans deserve better. The actual team on the ice is improving; I love the young pieces the Isles have in place. But as long as the rink issue is not resolved, there will be a black cloud hanging over this franchise.
justanoddball: I'm sorry, but I could care less about promoting the game in Europe. The games felt like glorified exhibition game with fans sitting on their hands. I understand why the Kings were over there, so that AEG could promote its buildings, but the Kings had no support whatsoever and they lost two home games. It's completely insulting to Kings fans that Kopitar and Richards scored goals against the Rangers and the arena was silent. Another reason Gary Bettman needs to be fired.
My take: I agree with your sentiment about Kings fans getting a raw deal on two home games, but I disagree on the Premiere Games being useless. I've been fortunate enough to have covered the first three years of the event in London, Stockholm and Helsinki, and I can tell you the games have an impact on those markets. It's not just about selling tickets; reaching out to fan bases in places where hockey is actually a popular sport (namely in Finland, Sweden and the Czech Republic, for example) is very important. There are more Premiere Games coming; the league is far from done with it.
Mark_SJShark: My beef is with the yearly drum-beating for the Washington Capitals. I've been reading all summer about their "fantastic" off-season, but to me this team is still full of question marks. Every team that has gone to the Cup Finals in the last few years has been deep at center, but no one knows what to expect for the Caps down the middle. Will Nick Backstrom bounce back? Will Marcus Johanssen take a step forward (they need a big one if he's to be a 2C)? Can Brooks Laich be as effective at center as at wing?
So much uncertainty up and down the lineup at such a key position seems alarming to me. Add to that the need for Semin, Green, and Ovechkin to get back to form of 2 years ago and the Caps seem like a team that will do well IF a lot of things go right this season where they went wrong last season. ...
GMGM claims injuries on the blueline are what cost the Capitals in the playoffs, but the Penguins suffered far more debilitating injuries and put up a much better fight against TB. I know I'm in the minority, but to me, the Capitals aren't worth the hype.
My take: Um, I picked your Sharks once again to win the Cup, not the Caps. I'm the one who should rant for picking your team every year and not having them win it all yet -- ha, ha! The Caps get a lot of hype because they have Alex Ovechkin on their roster and they win a lot of regular-season games. Having just spent a day in Washington last week, they are also a fascinating bunch to be around. This could either be a spectacular disaster this season, or they could finally get over the hump. In either case, it's well worth the coverage.
pelti: The Shanahan videos are proving to be just as inconsistent as suspensions ever were, just longer when they do suspend. It really seems like the only "standard" for boarding is whether the target protects himself or not. Seen plenty of driving hits to the nameplate go unpenalized already.
My take: Let's give Brendan Shanahan a few months before we declare anything either way. You need a larger body of evidence before protesting to knowing any trends in terms of consistency or length of suspensions, etc. For one, I applaud the videos because they show more transparency than the league has ever shown in terms of supplementary discipline. Now we'll see if Shanahan can maintain a tough stance, especially when it comes to Rules 48 and 41.
tking716: I'm a Bruins fan. I have nothing to rant about.
My take: Still feel the same way today after a 1-3-0 start? Then again, the team could go 1-81-0 and winning a Stanley Cup and ending a 39-year drought is still well worth it. Until next week, folks!