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When will this opinion be acceptable?

Friday, April 28, 2006

This was my take on the issue of Todd Bertuzzi last July, which at the time, was deemed highly unacceptable by the readers:

Todd Bertuzzi vs. Steve Moore. Todd Bertuzzi vs. The Media. Todd Bertuzzi vs. Anyone.

When does it end? For the majority of the hockey world, it already has.

A total of 531 days have passed since Bertuzzi brutally attacked Moore from behind and drove him face-first into the ice, breaking Moore's neck and putting his NHL future on hold. In reality, a 17-month suspension of Bertuzzi totaled a scant 20 games courtesy of a league lockout and his reinstatement by Gary Bettman on Aug. 8.

And as the media once again shines the spotlight on this psychological petri dish, complete with the vilification of Bertuzzi, the lament of Moore's condition and the questionable judgment of the NHL, those in the hockey world have not only turned the page -- they've closed the book.

The message is clear: We're letting it go. Now it's time for you to do the same.

How else do you explain the camaraderie at the Olympic orientation camp this week between the thuggish Bertuzzi and Joe Sakic or Adam Foote -- both former teammates of Steve Moore?

Sakic told the Canadian Press on Monday, "Todd has served his suspension and it was a lengthy suspension ... he served that and you have to move on."

Foote commented to Vancouver's The Province: "For me, it's something that's over ... I hope Moore comes out of it okay and I hope Todd comes out of it okay."

How can we justify the continuing discussion of punishment when hockey's own deity has pushed the matter aside, seemingly doing so even before the reinstatement of Bertuzzi? Team Canada executive director Wayne Gretzky admitted that he had no qualms about inviting Bertuzzi to the orientation camp once he was reinstated.

It's tempting to speculate at what point Gretzky privately felt that Bertuzzi had served his time, especially considering how open he was on welcoming the Canucks star back into the Olympic fold.


Yet again Moore is being left by the wayside, this time by his own peers. And while some are still demanding eye-for-an-eye justice, insisting that Bertuzzi not play until Moore does, who is to say that Moore would survive in the new NHL?

Moore earned $425,000 US in 2003-04. His return to Denver seems highly doubtful. Can space be found for Moore when the Avalanche are feeling ironic and adding elements like Brad May?

Healthy or injured, it doesn't matter. A guarantee of employment in pro sport doesn't exist. It is a harsh reality, but logistically it would be far more lucrative for Moore to financially hemorrhage Bertuzzi (and all others named) in a civil suit.

Mistakes were made by virtually everyone involved in this saga. But if those that play -- those that participated in the game in question -- have been requesting that the matter be put to rest, it would seem to be an appropriate decision to make. Not right, but appropriate.

And that's probably the best we can do in handling a matter that's been completely inappropriate.

And here is defenceman Eric Weinrich, writing for the Morning Sentinel, with his recent comments on Todd Bertuzzi:

Todd has served his suspension, but his sentence will never end. No matter where he plays, people call him a criminal. I witnessed it every game, and I feel it is time to let it go. I have expressed my feeling about the issue and I don't agree with his actions, but the same sort of thing has happened many times before. The game was just fortunate that no one was injured any worse.

Has an appropriate amount of time passed? Can the media and NHL players suggest that the page needs to be turned, without being crucified in the process? When will this opinion ever be acceptable?

[Credit to James Mirtle for unearthing the Eric Weinrich column.]

I've started to wonder if Ray Emery ever thanked Dominik Hasek for his impeccable timing.

When Hasek went down with his adductor injury in February, it allowed Emery plenty of time to adapt, and more importantly, to get through a integral cycle of rookie porpoising. His surges and slumps (March and April respectively) were well documented by the media and fans, and yet his demeanour never wavered. Tales of Ray's maturity level only seem worthy of press when they can be perceived in a negative light (bug eating, aesthetic controversies, et al). But his ability to ride out the last turbulent waves of the regular season with a diligent focus, only further demonstrated his ability to perform as a true No. 1 -- and not just a replacement.

There are many in the media who believe Ray needs to play regularly in order to retain his form and confidence -- at least 55 games a season. Based on his play, particularly in the post-season thus far, most are ready to give him that opportunity. Granted, we're only four games in, but Ray has been spectacular for a number of reasons. Obviously his play has been stable, focused and very effective. However, he's not the star of the show. By maintaining his starts at a high, but not an extreme level (e.g. two shutouts), he's removed a great deal of the attention from himself. The spotlight remains, but it doesn't burn as bright. Emery has yet to draw any frenetic attention in this series, on or off the ice. And when you're a rookie goaltender stepping in for a probable hall-of-famer, that's the best way to handle things -- you want people to take notice, but not to the point of obsession.

Ray's star is on the rise -- but not in the traditional, flash-in-the-pan manner that often accompanies the tales from the playoffs. He's doing what he's capable of. And he is proving his point.


Thursday, April 27, 2006

I snapped this quick pic with my cell phone (sorry for the poor quality), when the camera immediately panned to John Tortorella, after Havlat's goal (making the score 4-2 for the Sens). Note the fan's fuct t-shirt.

A ribald observation on my part? Definitely. A sign of things to come for the Tampa Bay Lightning? Probably.

The sexy memo, that is. Here are some of Crawford's comments from his news conference this aft, specifically about Todd Bertuzzi:

"I really feel Todd has been so unfairly treated here, especially lately, when it's very, very sexy for the media to try and portray that there's a problem between one side and the other side," said Crawford, who held a news conference in the same room at GM Place where he talked to reporters during the season.

Talk is heating up in the search for a new head coach in Vancouver. Names mentioned thus far include Manitoba Moose head coach Alain Vigneault, Toronto Marlies coach Paul Maurice, Red Wings scout (and former head coach) Dave Lewis, and the recently fired Pat Quinn (although he is only referenced in the TSN headline, and nowhere else in the article). Here's a quote from Canucks' GM Dave Nonis on the search proceedings:

"It's about the right person, not the person that is the sexiest choice to do the best job."

This is getting sick.

Can we please talk about the use of the term "sexy" within sports, and its respective media? It's a trend gone horribly, horribly wrong. The Canucks are not looking for the "sexiest" coach. The San Jose Sharks are the "sexy" pick for the Stanley Cup. Is there a new definition for this word that I'm unaware of?

Not that I'd ever be idiotic enough to misuse the word "sexy" when what I really meant was "trendy", but can you imagine if I called someone sexy in the column? It would be like a coup for the naysayers that have an obvious problem with a female sportswriter. I'd immediately become a puckbunny -- a Terri-Anne Welyki, version 2.0.

I think I'd sound ridiculous using (or should I say misusing) this term. And why some of Canada's most respected analysts can't see how foolish they sound when they say it, is beyond me.

I'm calling an immediate moratorium on the sexy movement in sports. And based on the photos above, I believe Dave Lewis should help to lead the charge.

Thankfully he didn't elaborate

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

When it's past midnight (MDT) and you're in the middle of a double-OT between the Red Wings and Oilers, sometimes you run out of things to talk about. CBC's Mark Lee proved that when the camera panned to a shot of a shirtless fan with his chest painted, and he dropped this:

"It's not uncommon to find young men in their father's garage, painting their chests before a hockey game."

It isn't? Alrighty then.

P.S. I did my best to find the cheesiest painted fan photo out there, and I think I succeeded. The belted khaki shorts with the bad sandals is a particularly nice touch.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - Liberal leader?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Canada's history:

Canada's future?

There could be a late entrant to the Liberal Party of Canada's leadership races -- basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Okay, so not really. But come on -- with the party searching for a direct route back to 24 Sussex, how could you ignore a minority who's blatantly attempting to channel Pierre Trudeau? It should also be noted that Kareem uses the tree for medicinal purposes. The Grits better not let this fish get away. Does anyone have a birchbark canoe that he can pose with for publicity photos?

[Photo Credit: Free Darko via Deadspin]

The speculation: Jim Hughson claimed during tonight's Habs-Canes broadcast that the game wasn't sold out and listed the following as the reasons why:

1) Carolina lost the first game of the series;

2) It was Monday.

The NHL website's official stats lists the attendance at 18,730. The only capacity stat I could find for the RBC Center was on Wikipedia, and lists the building's capacity as 18,731. I don't fully trust the NHL's figures, simply from the experience of seeing the SBP partially empty on occasion, but listed later as a near-sellout.

From my vantage point, the RBC Center seemed full, but Hughson must've have a reason for making the comment, and would have a different view from the press box. If this is true (big IF), it's a horrible revelation. Both home games of this series should've been sold out well in advance, and the day of the game should never be an issue.

As for the truth: Carolina fans are frightfully loud and enthusiastic. And I'm disgusted there are hockey fans in a southern U.S. state that remain more passionate than Ottawa fans.

P.S. According to the RBC Center website, the Hurricanes are the "2006 East Conference Champs." This is news to me, although right about now, I'm sure they'd love to be playing Tampa instead of Montreal.

Sincerely, Marcus Allen -- CBS Sports

Monday, April 24, 2006

Insightful headline of the week:

"Murray tells Senators to play better"

Yep, that might fix things. Thanks, coach.

TSN has finally gotten to the story about Keith Hernandez. Hernandez, now a broadcaster for the Mets, took issue with the presence of Kelly Calabrese in the San Diego dugout, during a Mets-Padres game on Sunday. Calabrese, a female, serves as the Padres' massage therapist. Here are Hernandez' comments:

"Who is the girl in the dugout, with the long hair?" Hernandez said during the broadcast. "What's going on here? You have got to be kidding me. Only player personnel in the dugout."

Hernandez found out later in the broadcast that Calabrese has been with the Padres training staff since 2004, but stood by his comment that she didn't belong with the team during a game.

"I won't say that women belong in the kitchen, but they don't belong in the dugout," Hernandez said.

These lame comments were then followed by an even lamer apology attempt:

"You know I am only teasing. I love you gals out there - always have."

Nice one, Keith. Who calls them "gals"? I'm getting the impression that dude hung out at the Latin Quarter back in the day.

I suppose it could've been worse. He could've said Calabrese should stay, if only to clean the place up a bit.

The origin of the Black Aces

Sunday, April 23, 2006

We had our first reference to the Black Aces this week in Ottawa, when the team called up Denis Hamel, Filip Novak, Kelly Guard and Steve Martins from Binghamton. Usually you don't hear about the Aces until the finals, and even then, they seem to only be mentioned once the Stanley Cup championship team has been determined.

I've always been fascinated by Black Aces -- the guys that always stand by during the playoffs, seldom play, but still maintain an necessary role on any squad. I wanted to know the origin of this playoff idiosyncrasy, and there was only one man to ask: Trivia guru Liam Maguire. I emailed him a query, and here was his response:

"The term (Black Aces) originated with Eddie Shore. Shore, as you know, was the owner of the AHL Springfield Indians. He started to call the players who were working their way back into the line-up of his club, his 'Black Aces.' These were players who were coming off of injuries or were being punished. They had run out of luck as far as Shore was concerned. There's a quote in Don Cherry's book written by Stan Fischler, "Anyone who crossed Shore became a 'Black Ace,' In addition to scrimmaging with the team, the Black Aces were required to do odd jobs around the arena such as painting seats, selling programs, making popcorn, and blowing up hundreds of balloons before the ice shows."

Some hockey fans might also associate the term with Ossie and Herb Carnegie, as well as Manny McIntyre. They were an all-black line in the Quebec Senior Hockey League in the late 1940's, and their nickname was the Black Aces. The line in actuality only played together in Sherbrooke, and Herbie was the only one of the trio that ever played for the Quebec Aces. An interesting piece about these pioneers can be found here.

When I asked Liam if there was any correlation between the current-day term and the QSHL's Black Aces, he told me he felt that there was, but there was no factual proof. Therefore the Shore-Springfield Indians' version stands as the original origin of today's nickname.

Nice job, HF Boards

Friday, April 21, 2006

The HF Boards decided to have a bit of fun at ESPN's expense -- it's the network's own fault, and that will become apparent once you see the ESPN SportsNation poll (and specifically, their choices for the Hart). Anyway, it's safe to say that the posters think quite a lot of Marek Svatos. For the record, I gave my vote to "Morning" Brodeur, but not to Barry Trotz and his pesky "Predatos". And if the Professional Hockey Writers' Association will have me next year (not in a biblical sense, of course), I'll be able to vote for real in 2006-07. God help you all.

1) Who do you think should win the Hart Trophy (MVP)?

61.4% Marek Svatos, Avalanche

19.8% Joe Thornton, Sharks

15.1% Jaromir Jagr, Rangers

2.7% Mikka Kiprusoff, Flames

1.0% Daniel Alfredsson, Senators

2) Who do you think should win the Vezina Trophy (best goalie)?

37.5% Mikka Kiprusoff, Flames

22.7% Matin (sic) Brodeur, Devils

21.9% Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers

11.6% Marty Turco, Stars

6.4% Tomas Vokoun, Predators

3) Who do you think should win the Calder Trophy (best rookie)?

66.6% Alexander Ovechkin, Capitals (Ed. Note: Satan has apparently spoken on this one)

12.6% Sidney Crosby, Penguins

10.8% Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers

10.0% Dion Phaneuf, Flames

4) Who do you think should win the Norris Trophy (best defenseman)?

41.9% Niklas Lidstrom, Red Wings

28.6% Sergei Zubov, Stars

11.7% Scott Niedermayer, Mighty Ducks

9.0% Chris Pronger, Oilers

8.9% Zdeno Chara, Senators

5) Who do you think should win the Adams Award (best coach)?

31.0% Tom Renney, Rangers

21.3% Lindy Ruff, Sabres

20.0% Peter Laviolette, Hurricanes

15.2% Barry Trotz, Predatos (sic)

12.6% Mike Babcock, Red Wings

6) Who do you think should win the Selke Trophy (best defensive forward)?

47.1% Rod Brind'Amour, Hurricanes

30.3% Mike Fisher, Senators

22.5% Jere Lehtinen, Stars

7) Who do you think should win the Lady Byng Trophy (sportsmanship)?

38.8% Pavel Datsyuk, Red Wings

35.9% Daniel Alfredsson, Senators

25.4% Brad Richards, Lightning

Total Votes: 68,132

Pat Quinn: Goat of the Scape variety?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

(Ed. Note: I love Google Images - some of the most amusing photos you see on the blog were pulled from a 13-page deep search that started with something as simple as entering "Mats Sundin". Long story short, that's where this latest image came from. I did a Google Image search of Pat Quinn, and lo and behold...a goat. A goat named Rosasharn's Patrick Quinn. I couldn't make this up if I tried. Patrick is a Senior Champion and Grand Champion Buck. It's good to know someone is.)

Say what you will about Pat Quinn -- actually, for the most part, you, the fan haven't been saying it -- you've been regurgitating six-hour-old TSN/Sportsnet/The Score/Fan 590 vitriol. And they can say that he wasn't a good communicator -- that it was previously the responsibility of current-Panther Gary Roberts to carry information from the coach to the team. And now that Roberts is gone, a major flaw in the team's chemistry has been exposed. Well, couldn't someone else step into that role? Like a Mats Sundin, perhaps? Oh, but he isn't that type of captain. Remind me again what "type" he is? Apparently, the type that made $6.333 million US this year, but can't step up to play an grownup's version of Telephone.

"Hey Sundin -- even money says that Paul Maurice has the head coaching job...purple monkey dishwasher. Pass it on."

And speaking of Paul "Buster" Maurice, I found some comments from JFJ's press conference this aft to be quite interesting. The press kept pushing for a legitimate answer to speculation that Maurice (the current coach of the Toronto Marlies) would step into Quinn's Ermenegildo Zegnas, behind the Leafs' bench. JFJ at one point said that Maurice has been involved in an "8 or 9 month interview" for the job.

A curious choice of words. Are we to interpret this to mean that Pat Quinn was a lame duck coach for the entire 2005-06 NHL season? If that was the case, what was truly accomplished in this experiment gone horribly wrong?

(Aside -- I gave Paul Maurice the above moniker because he looks like a one-off character from Sex and The City named "Buster" -- he was a shoe salesman and a foot fetishist on the show.)

Most of the arguments against Quinn stem back to his days when he held both posts as GM -- that he let players like Jason Smith, Brad Boyes and Steve Sullivan go (or be traded).

But who brought in Gary Roberts? Who brought in Alexander Mogilny? Both came in as UFAs and affected the team in a remarkable way -- just ask any Sens fan.

Quinn never should have held the GM post as a head coach to begin with. It was a major conflict of interest, and in respect to his firing, the point is moot.

Quinn is still a very capable and experienced coach -- some may claim that he's stuck in his ways, and lacks the ability to adapt. Those are the people that haven't faced him as a coaching opponent in the playoffs. He's more than able to change on the fly -- to anticipate and alter when necessary (and given the proper tools).

Hopefully once his bitterness subsides, Quinn will be grateful to be free of the stranglehold that the Toronto media presents, and to no longer be associated with a franchise that's obviously on the downswing. In the meantime, JFJ will eventually have to be held accountable for the questionable free agent signings that he made as GM. After witnessing his horrific news conference this aft, it's plainly obvious that the only thing slick about John is his hair.

Column suitable for ages 18-49

Sunday, April 16, 2006

A letter from a reader questioning my decision to reference Matt Leinart. The problem? The reader

doesn't know who Matt Leinart is. Here's the reference:

Chris Kelly: Surely the majority of the media didn't know what to make of Kelly at the beginning of the season -- he wasn't necessarily expected to make the team, and it showed. But Kelly has made his presence known with great forechecking, speed and a diligent work ethic at both ends of the ice. His efforts have not gone unnoticed by coach Bryan Murray, who has allowed the rookie to play with the team's star lines on occasion -- basically the equivalent of getting the call to be Matt Leinart's wingman at a USC co-ed party.

And the letter:

"I am a big Sens fan and have followed hockey for over 50 years. I like to think I know a lot about hockey. (In fact, I do) But I was completely puzzled by your reference to a Matt Leinhart (sic) wingman in today’s Sun. Does this have anything to do with hockey? Is it another sport? If so, perhaps you could have made it clear? Matt Leinhart (sic), whoever he is, is certainly not a well-known name in Canada. If you choose to use examples in your articles I recommend that you stick to well known sports or names. Just a thought."

Matt Leinart: Rose Bowl champion? Heisman trophy winner? Penicillin spokesperson (I'm assuming, based on the amount of women he has surely pulled down)?

Memo to Canada: This is why people make fun of you.

Tuesday evening deglaze

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

...because I called the goodness that is Vesa Toskala.

· From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

"Sidney Crosby still doesn't care to elaborate on the finer points of that 'lower-body injury' he got in a 1-0 loss Saturday night at Tampa, and he's not ready to commit -- not completely, anyway -- to being in the lineup when the Penguins meet Philadelphia at 7:08 p.m. today at the Wachovia Center."

Someone's been taking lessons from Pat Quinn, it would seem.

This sort of secretive behaviour would be accepted if, say, the Penguins were in the thick of a playoff race. One always wishes to protect their best interests in such a case. But unfortunately for Pittsburgh, they'll be torched in just a few short weeks. So why the secrecy? I'm left to believe it's a move to protect the crown prince's golf swing.

· More Crosby crap: There was a lascivious blog headline in The Globe and Mail that read, "Sid's pink stick highly coveted". I can't link directly to the story, but here's a short clip:

Sid's pink stick highly coveted

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - - Someone paid $4,750 (U.S.) for a pink hockey stick used by Sidney Crosby in a pregame warm-up, topping all sales in a charity auction.

The pink sticks were part of an NHL fund-raising event, Tribute to Hockey Moms, an auction to raise money for breast cancer research.

More than 200 players from all of the NHL's teams participated in the event on March 18, using the sticks in warm-ups or even in the game. But the Penguins painted sticks didn't arrive in Montreal in time for their game, so they used them this past Sunday.

A nice story to be sure, but that headline kills me. Make sure you wrap that thing up, kid.

· Here's where I'm supposed to write about how disappointing it is to lose a CFL franchise.

Yep, I'm choking up over here.

And how about Dave Gross on the Team 1200 questioning former 'Gades media relations guru Arash Madani about the possibility of the team returning to the NCC next year as an expansion team?

Direct quote: "Dave -- it's over."

Could these mensas possibly be any more pathetic in their bleating desire to retain a third-rate franchise, that serves as nothing more than a dumping ground for the NFL? The argument may always be that this is a hockey town (and it is -- I've stated it publicly myself), but there was a time when it was difficult for the Senators to fill the then-Corel Centre. It's not about marketing. It's about winning -- the potential, the ability and the consistency. The media can blame poor ownership until they're blue in the face, but no one wants to come out and admit that Ottawa is a fair-weather city when it comes to sports franchises. Now, I wouldn't expect people to pony up repeatedly, a la Chicago Cubs fan, with blind alligance and bottomless pockets -- but it's a two-way street. There needs to be proof that a successful team can be fielded, and there has to be trust from the fans that the team possesses some potential. Neither of those characteristics were present in the city for the Renegades.

· Reading material for extra credit: I'm not a Canucks fan, but
this was an interesting story about life on the road (G-rated and no crazy hazing crap).

P.S. Credit to whoever photoshopped the above photo -- I've seen it on multiple sites and am unsure of the original source.

Middle finger response

Thursday, April 06, 2006

W, placing his vote for the Calder. Being a Washington boy, you can probably guess who he favours.

Methinks the myopic fans of Pittsburgh and specifically Sidney Crosby, are overdue for a good torching -- especially when they're responding to columns I wrote over two months ago. I'm going to leave this unedited, so you can view Penguin Fan in all of his uneducated and delusional* glory:

To bad you take a biased opinion on Sidney Crosby and use it to try and get yourself noticed by saying you hate Crosby. I, as a huge fan of his, don't care if you dislike him it's actually expected. I know your living in Canada most would expect you to like the man who's supposed to be the face of hockey for the next 20, but we both live in great countries with the freedom of speech and your entitled to your opinion.

Your and idiot because you use examples of other people being stupid as reasons to hate Sidney. Sure he whines, at times too much, but a few greats have Gretzky, Lemieux and Jagr have all been known to gripe at the refs for not getting calls and what not. They do something called mature after their rookie seasons, IE Crosby will mature.

As for the examples you provided, allow me to say as someone who lives in Pittsburgh and has watched/listened/attended every game this year that Bob Errey who while I liked as a player is a bit of a dolt in the commentators box. He's a homer, said of those who favor only home teams and are greatly biased towards them. I've heard him make several comments about the refs and Sidney along with the rest of the team, sorry we'll try to control Bob more next year.

As for what the sports writers are saying about the Calder trophy race, yes it's completly stupid for anyone to say it's unfair because Ovechkin is older. If Ovechkin wins the rookie points race, which it seems he will, then he deserves the Calder trophy easily. Again these are Canadian sports writers, along with American ones, who want the North American boy to win it and not a Russian who plays a different game.

You want to be angry he has an 'A', well if your on the Penguins team and I don't know about you I'm sorry for not noticing you sooner, but in this day and age I do believe the team has a say in who has that honor and who does not. LeClair, whom most of us here were extremly happy to get, started the season with an 'A' but that changed around the time Michelle Terrian came in. Reasons are known that John isn't a locker room leader, which I debate with proof of his success in Philly but hey I'm not in there either. Sure his 'A' may have been a way to help him get on the Canadian team, but he has earned it by leading the team in points and keeping us in just about every game this season.

With our king of kings Lemieux gone (Ed. Note: Seriously? Bwah!) someone had to fill the role which Recchi did nicely for the time being, and now Sidney is expected to do just that, which he IS doing. The kid is a great player and will be a great player, if you don't want to like him that's ok. For years I hated Gretzky for mutlipe reasons, again Pittsburgh, but I know he's a great player and now like him that he's retired. Not the same reasons but I'm saying everyone hates a great player for some reason or another, but don't hate Sidney because of others being stupid or making idiotic comments.

Good article otherwise, the Sunday Febuary 5th 2006 one that is, sorry just found it on the internet now.

The reply:

If I'm an idiot, then you're late to the party. But let's not argue over semantics.

You call me an idiot for not acknowledging that Crosby hasn't fully matured -- where did I say that? Did I call him a dwarf? Did I challenge his mental capacity? He will mature, and he's more mature off the ice than on -- I know, because I interviewed him at the draft. He possesses the ability to become an intelligent, well-balanced player. But he isn't yet. And when the spotlight of the hockey world is on you, any negative behaviour is going to be exacerbated ten-fold -- as it should be. The media finds fault with his pouting and temper tantrums, as have other players in the league, and for good reason. He obviously wants to be the face of the league. He can't be acting like that if he is. You reference Gretzky, Jagr et al -- news flash: A multitude of sins will always be forgiven if you are the best in the league. Crosby isn't yet.

What "sports writer" has a problem with Ovechkin winning the Calder, as opposed to Crosby, based on nationality? Don Cherry isn't a sportswriter. Let me let you in on a little secret: The media (Canadian and American) LOVES Ovechkin. With both teams out of the playoffs (Pittsburgh and Washington), there's only one reason to come and see either team down the stretch. That would be Crosby and Ovechkin respectively. A funny phenomenon has been occurring within Ottawa, however -- people aren't showing up to see Pittsburgh anymore. But they'll pack the place for Washington. For the record, that behaviour extends to the press box as well.

As for the assistant captain situation, I don't really care if you deemed John LeClair to be an insufficient leader in Philly. That still doesn't justify placing a rookie player in a position of power, on a team that was having issues accepting him receiving preferential treatment beyond the award of assistant captain. It was highly inappropriate (and I wasn't the only writer to say so), and the timing couldn't have been worse. I even would've been okay with it if they had given it to Crosby in his sophomore year. But not now.

Crosby is no longer the story of the year: Deal with it. And mark my words -- he's not getting the Calder. Penguin fans need to wake up: Ovechkin is the media's darling now. Not Crosby. But NHL careers are marathons, not sprints. There's still hope for your boy yet.

Thanks for your kind words.

Erin Nicks


* Not all Penguins fans are uneducated and delusional, I'm sure. Hopefully that strokes the hypersensitive egos that all Pittsburgh fans truly do possess.

P.S. The attendance for the last Penguins game was announced as 19,360, but I can tell you that from my vantage point that many seats were empty.

Wednesday afternoon deglaze

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

...because I'm late and you're just going to have to deal with it.

Anna rethinks divorce -- wants to continue rocking the gravy train and dodging Baltimore's STDs. You know life's not worth living when you don't even feel like taking the kids out shopping for UGG sandals, right? Well, that's the conclusion the Notorious Ms. Benson came to on Monday, deciding instead to take back her cheating husband (allegedly) and maintaining her status as Maryland's finest D-list celebrity (just ahead of Linda Hamilton, of course). The news of Anna's imminent return to the Baltimore fold made for an unexpectedly interesting media day with the Lynx on Tuesday, with all the local hacks muttering under their breath, "Kris Benson" and "Tommy John rehab", like a child making a hope-filled wish at Christmas. Give it up, boys. And God forbid, if it ever comes to pass that the Bensons are forced to spend a stretch in Canada's fair capital, I'll be wearing surgical gloves to shake Anna's hand.

When did Ottawa's No. 1 defenseman turn into Spain's favourite female Flamenco guitarist? Here's the game-day teaser as it appeared on TSN.ca on Monday: The Atlanta Thrashers continue the quest for their first-ever playoff berth tonight when they visit the East-leading Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place. They are catching the Senators at an opportune time. Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson is suffering from flu-like symptoms today and will be a game-time decision. The Senators were hoping to have injured defenceman Zdeno Charo and forward Mike Fisher back tonight, but they are not going to dress.

For the record, they never bothered to correct it, even after several hours. Cuchi cuchi.

How interesting that we have had two incidents this week, both involving playoff teams facing opponents who likely won't make the cut. In both cases, players from the flailing squads displayed an intent to injure. It may be a reach to suggest that this is bitterness, due to the recognition of one squad going onto the playoffs, and another spending the majority of spring on the links. But it's a phenomenon that does exist in sports, and is one we have seen previously -- most notably in the NFL. Unfortunately, NHL teams lack the ability to "sit" their star players down the stretch, especially when playoff races are so tight. The only way to curb this type of behaviour would be to fine and suspend players accordingly. But based on the fines that Kovalchuk and Exelby received on Wednesday, it's obvious the punishment didn't fit the crime.

More tomorrow. Maybe.

Question the answers

Sunday, April 02, 2006

The question I am most often asked by the readers is, "Why don't you slag your own?" Unfortunately, "your own" seems to cover the gamut for Ottawans -- from the Sun to the Citizen, from the Team 1200 to Sportnet and beyond...basically if they're media, I'm somehow intrinsically linked to them. That's a lot of nonsensical responsibility for a weekly freelance sportswriter.

That being said, I did have a strong reaction to the two columns in the Sun on Friday and Saturday. The first questioned the healing period required for Dominik Hasek's adductor injury, and the second claimed a secondary source indicated that Hasek's injury will keep him out for the rest of the season.

(Aside -- At this point, I would like to strongly suggest that you stop and read both columns in their entirety.)

I don't spend any time interviewing the Senators or members of the front office by choice, so I haven't been subjected to the same regurgitated answers in respect to Hasek's injury. Regardless, I am well aware that the media has grown increasingly tired with the vague timelines they have been given, specifically the one for Ottawa's No. 1 goaltender.

And so, for whatever reason, be it frustration, boredom due to a slow news week, or plain marketing strategy, the Sun charged ahead with its 48-hour assault on Hasek -- tweaking his nose, questioning his willingness to rejoin the team at such a crucial period, and insisting above all that they knew the truth about the injury.

The truth being that Hasek was not going to return for the rest of the season.

Here's what I don't understand: If you're going to go balls-out on the offensive, then why aren't you being specific? Here's the quote: "Is the Dominator done? A source closely connected to individuals within the Senators organization yesterday said yes, Dominik Hasek's season is over, that it's already been determined the star goalie will not be coming back from the strained adductor muscle he suffered at the Olympics."

"Season"? What "season"? Regular or playoffs? Was I foolish to assume that based on the hesitant nature in which Hasek was working out, that he wasn't going to return before the first round? Wasn't that a foregone conclusion? The team remains in first place -- why would they rush him back? And if this is what Brennan meant when he said "season", why wasn't Marcus Allen's name in the byline?

The entire gutsy nature of the column becomes completely irrelevant when you note that there are no specifics -- that all the bases are covered.

Furthermore, if it truthfully does mean that Hasek won't be playing in the playoffs (and again, we're forced to assume because Brennan wasn't specific), then why would Hasek still be working out? Why wouldn't he return to the Czech Republic? Why wouldn't he have surgery if it were required? Why the charade?

I don't understand this sort of sensationalistic behaviour. It serves no purpose. If there was a motive -- say, for example, to anger Hasek into proving a local sportswriter wrong, then that's irresponsible. As a neophyte, I have respect for all writers at the Sun -- that being said, there is a caste system within this business. It takes a certain echelon of media to call out a probable Hall-of-Famer and a garner a legitimate response beyond the prototypical, "It doesn't bother me." For the record, that was Hasek's response on the Team 1200 last night.

If there were no specific details regarding Hasek's availability for either the regular season or the playoffs, then this column should have remained as an opinion piece. But it didn't. And now, due to some sensationalistic sourcing, you have a city up in arms. Mission accomplished? Indeed -- for the Sun's marketing staff.