Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Season I still can't explain.

The Senators season is now over.  I still get asked all the time how they did what they did with all the injuries and all the inexperience.  I still don't know the answer.  Good coaching, good luck, great goaltending, youthful exuberance, I just don't know.  I don't believe I have ever seen a team go as far with such little experience and so many hurdles in front of them.

It is my belief that the Senators most important project this summer is actually off the ice not on it.  The Senators need to carefully manage the expectations of the fans and the media.  Under promise and over deliver is a great way to run any business.  The Senators have accomplished that over the last 2 season but more by accident rather than intention.

As stated publicly 2 years ago by the owner, the president and the general manager,  this is a rebuild.  Its a 3-year rebuild where as originally stated by Mr. Melnyk "we plan to contend for a playoff spot in three years".  Clearly the club is way ahead of that since they got to the 1st round in year #1 of the rebuild and now the 2nd round in year #2 of the rebuild.  This is so far past any reasonable expectation.

So it follows that the Senators now should make it to the conference final next year.  Well hold on Trigger, this is the expectation monster that must be contained.  Next season is year #3 of the rebuild.  Nothing more.  If the Senators don't make the playoffs or get bounced in the first round,  has the rebuild been a failure?  Not if the team is filled with young talent and set up to be a strong playoff team for the next 10 years.

We have all seen cities which crush their teams under the weight of unreasonable expectations,  hopefully Ottawa will not be one of those cities.  Let this still very young team, continue to ripen and it is more likely to transform from a playoff contender to a Cup contender before your very eyes.

See you at the rink.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Matt Cooke. What else do you have to say?

Karlsson is done for the season after Matt Cooke’s skate blade sliced into his achilles tendon.
Was it accidental or not?

I originally thought it was.  I tweeted as much saying I thought it was accidental.  In our radio booth in Pittsburgh we only get the Penguins TV replays and the first two I saw quickly while also trying to keep an eye on the ice, made me think it was a fluke accident.  But when the other replays started churning and there was more time to watch closely, things changed for me.  There is one from a backside camera that sealed the deal for me.  This was not an accident.   I don’t believe Cooke had an intricate plan to exactly position his skate and then drive it down to sever the tendon,  but he was doing something very reckless and dangerous and he knew it.  He has known it his entire career.

This morning I am hearing and reading from players, former players and experts with their thoughts.  There seem to be just as many who believe it to be accidental as those who believe it is not.  Everyone is allowed their opinion and mine is,  this was not accidental.  Simple mathematical odds tell you its not accidental.  If this leg positioning and forward down stroke with the skate is such a common practice when trying to pin a player on the boards,  then why don’t we see it all the time?  Why don’t we see more of these “accidents?”  Players pin opponents hundreds of times each night in dozens of arena’s for over a hundred years in this league and yet, Matt Cooke is the only one to be involved in this “freak accident”.   The odds of that are roughly the same as being mauled by a polar bear and a black bear at the same time, while standing on one leg, holding a golf club during a lightning storm.

I am reading tweets from Cooke supporters pointing out that the lack of a suspension proves this was nothing more than a terrible accident.  Supplementary discipline in the NHL is not proof of innocence.  When Cooke hit Marc Savard and ended his career there was no suspension but it did cause the NHL to completely revamp the way they call such plays because they are cheap, dirty and dangerous.  Grabovski last week was not suspended for biting,  but everyone on the planet knows he did.  In this case,  the NHL can not prove intent unless they have a mind reader on staff,  thus they chose not to suspend giving Cooke the benefit of the doubt.

What Matt Cooke has done to deserve anyone’s benefit of the doubt is beyond me.  His litany of  intentional injury to others is a matter of public record.  Simply go onto Youtube and see all the videos.  Slew footing, kneeing, head shots, hits from behind, boarding, late hits, elbows to the head, diving, running goalies and one of my favorites was the “accidental” kick to the head of Detroit goalie Chris Osgoode in game #3 of the Cup final in 2003.

Why would anyone believe Cooke’s claims when he all but admitted he has lied over and over again.  Each time he has been at the centre of one of these incidents his public claim has been “I didn't mean it” or “I’m not that kind of player” or both.  The fact is,  over a year ago when Cooke claimed he was turning over a new leaf,  that statement proved the other ones were lies.  In fact he did mean to injure players and he is that kind of player.

With his claims of change, also came stories that Mario and Ray Shero forced him to get counseling or he would not remain a Penguin.  I don’t know if this is true, but again it is difficult for the Penguins as an organization to be taken seriously when they call for changes in the game after Crosby’s injuries,  while they still employ one of the worst offenders in the NHL’s history if the scale used to judge is based on the number of people he has injured in his career.

The irony is,  Matt Cooke would no longer be in the game if the instigator rule didn't exist because he would have been taken out long ago.

Hockey fans no longer get to see Karlsson and his exceptional talent, but they do get to enjoy more of Matt Cooke’s “accidents” this season.  Which one would you rather pay to see?

See you at the rink.