Friday, March 26, 2010

Pause, breathe, footy

A while ago, the inflated head of a certain Lillywhite buffoon claimed he was shooting for the top at Real Madrid. Mistake prone (yet often trumpeted) Wilson Palacios essentially stated he was using Spurs as a stepping stone for further ambitions. Not that that has anything to do with my beef with him; a lot of players do it. However, they are usually good players. But, hell, I'm all for it. Get rid of the idiot. Heather hasn't learned who he is based on his quality footballing, but instead from the constant screaming she hears from the living room: "Fucking Palacios!"

Well, if Palacios going to Madrid (or anywhere for that matter) isn't sweet enough, I'm going to perk right up for the return option. Lassana Diarra is now rumoured to being pursued to come the opposite direction because of a falling out at Real Madrid. And as someone who watched him work some defensive midfield magic in person, this suits me just fine. Granted it was through some beer goggles, he was clearly the player of the TFC - Real Madrid friendly last August in a match that featured C. Ronaldo, Kaka, Higuain, Raul, Xabi Alonso, and, yes, even Dwayne De Rosario.

From Daily Mail...

Real, though, want a find a replacement before allowing the £17million-rated France international to leave.
Let's get this done.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

More head shots

According to's poll today, 70% of fans don't think that a minor/major penalty for a head shot will have any effect on deterring players from doing it. I was not one of them. And neither is Don Cherry.

So the question is, what do people think is needed here? Huge fines? Suspensions? lifetime hockey bans?

A major penalty is absolutely going to change behaviours. Because 5 minute majors are going to lead to goals, which are then going to lead to lost games, which are then going to lead to coaching decisions against the idiots who do these things. It would be nice to think that Matt Cooke gets disciplined internally by the Penguins from that hit, but that is dream world. Winning is the only thing that matters in hockey. If he gets penalized on that hit for 5 minutes and Boston scores two goals and wins by 1 instead of loses by 1, I'm going to guess there will be a strip torn off him by Dan Bylsma.

I think the poll was misinterpreted by most people who think only penalties aren't good enough for them for punishment. They want suspensions and fines. Adding those things in is fine. But that doesn't mean only penalties won't affect players' behaviour.

Suspensions are fines because they forfeit their salaries during the suspension and these would also help. I would give an automatic 1 game suspension, followed by 5 games for repeat offense, and then double the suspension going forward. Once the first guy gets 10 or 20 games for this, you bet your ass eyes will be opened.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Take out head shots

Up for discussion at the NHL General Managers meetings is head shots.

The current debate is whether to outlaw all shoulder hits to the head or just the ones that come from the blind side to a player in a vulnerable position. I have no issue whatsoever with taking out all shoulder hits to the head, which would mean even the ones where the hitter comes and hits straight on. Chris Neil did it to John Mitchell on Saturday when Mitchell reached for the puck as the hit came in. Chris Neil would get penalized in my system, but not for being dirty, just unlucky/clumsy. And next time maybe he reacts differently by slowing his check and just pushing Mitchell over instead of leaning into him. After all, what if Mitchell was Sidney Crosby and he got a concussion and it knocked him out for the season (or worse). Would my rule be worth it then? I think so. And not just because I have Crosby in my draft. Which, consequently, I've dealt with the serious impacts of concussions in because my late round pick, PM Bouchard, has played only one game this year because of a concussion. (Yes, this really is all about me and my ability to profit. I have Savard too, btw.)

All the stakeholders in the NHL say "we have to do something about it." But who among them is really pressing to do something about it? Who is clamoring for change? Who is demanding it? Boston's GM Peter Chiarelli seems pretty adamant something should be done. But that is only because his player, Marc Savard, was obliterated the night before by Matt Cooke.

Sports writers want something to be done. Fans like me want something to be done. But guess what? Brian Burke has a message for you:

"I don't mean to hurt your feelings, but when we talk about rule changes I could care less what the media has to say about it," said Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke. "To me, we've got to address what's right about our game and what's wrong about or game -- not what some sportswriter thinks is wrong with the game."
Sid Sixeiro is right. He said if the NHL is unwilling to do anything to protect their own players, because they are reluctant to take away the physical nature of the game, then why should I care about the well being of those players? Maybe they should just be looked at as gladiators, like you do with boxers and MMA fighters. But the difference here is that hockey players are supposed to score goals to win games, not beat the shit out of each other. But as Jason Spezza says on
"The physical nature of our game is one of the best things we have and you don't want to take that physical nature of the game but you also don't want to see guys getting hurt."
They (the league and the players) are worried about "sissy-ing" the game because they think fans only love the game for the blood-thirsty nature of it. A lot of fans probably do. They have that gladiators mentality. At times I've probably had it. But at some point, a little maturity and common sense has to be injected when you start regularly seeing guys passed out on the ice and careers being cut short.

When Canada nearly completed that tic-tac-toe passing play that was only thwarted by Evgeni Nabokov against Russia in the Olympic quarter finals, I was on my feet. That's the hockey I want to see. I don't watch the game to see guys getting laid out. Hitting is part of the strategy and the excitement about the game, but it is not everything about the game.

Just like how everyone stands and ooh and ahhs at NHL fights and gathers around a computer or a TV to see the line brawl or Mike Milbury beating a guy with a shoe in the stands, they would do the same thing if it happened in a parliamentary session or at a Mcdonalds or at a day care. But just because people are fascinated or entertained by it doesn't make it right.

There's no question the most exciting hockey that can be seen is in the Olympics (or if you're Canadian, the world juniors to a large extent too). How much fighting is there in the Olympics? Zero. I realize this is a short tournament where national pride is on the line and not an 82 game season. And I realize in the Olympics that Ovechkin got away with a shoulder to the head on Jagr that left him concussed (interestingly, Jagr said he wanted one before realizing he actually was concussed so that he wouldn't have to remember it), but the play should have been penalized and Ovechkin comes from a league where that hit is legal and encouraged. If head shots get outlawed in the NHL right now and in 4 years time in Sochi for the next Olympics and that situation presents itself again to Ovechkin, does it happen exactly the same way? Maybe. That just might be who Ovechkin is and how he plays. But I don't think so. People aren't dumber than dogs. They can also learn by observing and experiencing punishment from bad behaviour.

Does it seem a little strange to anyone how Canada's identity to the world is a peacekeeping, humble, polite nation? How this happened with our national pastime being hockey is beyond me. We celebrate the fighting and violence and revere a man (to the point of nearly being named the greatest Canadian ever) who calls frenchmen and foreigners pussies and who constantly declares that we are the best.

The NHL, it's GMs, the NHLPA, Mike Richards, Matt Cooke, Patrice Cormier, and the like should all take note. If you have to make your sport appealing by encouraging violence or looking the other way at career / day to day life threatening injuries, then your sport no longer appeals to me the way it once did.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010