Wednesday, June 22, 2016

What Awards Show?

"The music industry is lying to you
it is telling you that you are excited
and you ARE excited
and you ARE excited

Or rather you have confused excitement,
with the fear of missing out.
Which is understandable as these two feelings
are very closely related!"

- Singing of the Bonesaws by Future of the Left

Okay, this isn't about the music industry, but it rings very true in just about every form of entertainment.  How sad.

The long-standing tradition of the NHL awards is something that I once had great respect for, but that respect has fallen to the wayside, much like many of the other award shows of our time.  With the NHL awards, there is a great history about the awards themselves, the players/coaches/managers that the awards have been named after, the long-standing list of NHL greats who have won the awards and their lasting legacy in fan conversation.

My biggest contention and the reason why I haven't watched the awards in a number of years is the wording of the awards and what the process is to determine that may or many not determine the most accurate depiction of said wording.

The awards, which are not based on actual statistical achievements, are based on a voting process, by a select group of hockey writers and it's a poorly kept secret that there are a good number of those voters who will offer up their personal bias for these awards, which really skews the process of determining who the best in a certain category is.

There are long-standing debates in this day and age, especially when it comes to the Norris Trophy, for instance, about who should be considered to be voted the NHL's best defenseman annually.  First of all, the wording of the trophy is ridiculously ambiguous, which offers up a debate within itself and then the debate about who it should be gets even more muddy.  When you offer up something or someone as being the best, the determination of that distinction should be anything but muddy, in my opinion.

I think both Erik Karlsson and Drew Doughty have merits for being considered the best defenseman in the NHL and I would even throw Brent Burns into that mix as well, but they all play in slightly different styles, so how do you decide?  Sure, leave it up to a group of writers from all kinds of NHL cities, where exposure is limited of some players in some markets.

However, there is one trophy that the winner is voted for that actually has some merit... the Ted Lindsay Award.  The Lindsay is award to the the league's most valuable player, according to his peers, voted on by the players themselves.  That's a distinction worth talking about, since they are the ones who are playing the game and know who is who in this argument.  I wish this award carried a little bit more distinction, but the media doesn't have their fingers in this pie, so why should they boast about it?

Obviously, the NHL doesn't really give a sweet fuck about these sorts of things, because their hype machine works overtime to make sure that you know about the awards and they rile up everyone into a slight frenzy and it's good for business to have these sorts of debates, because it means that everyone is paying attention to their product and talking about it.

All the glitz, the glamour, the B & C-level celebrities... that's just the curdled cream and cherry pit on the shit sundae that is the awards show.  I think that's a whole different post for a different time though.

Sure, my points are just piling on to a giant dung pile of crap that won't be considered by anyone and things are not likely to change in my lifetime, but with the marketing of this shit show going overboard over the last couple of days, really brings the opinions up to the surface.  I had a few minutes, so I thought I would just jot them down and feel a little bit better about not watching the awards again this year.

I wouldn't say I was missing it, Bob.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Selling Phil

All this talk of where the Toronto Maple Leafs may ship forward Phil Kessel to is growing somewhat tiresome.  I think the best thing about this whole ordeal is that the Maple Leafs are allegedly asking for a whole lot to come back in a deal.  That is their prerogative and that's fine.  It's their business, they can do whatever they want or ask for whatever they want for the players that they have on the block.

I don't necessarily like Kessel, he may not be "the guy" that can carry a franchise, but I will acknowledge his talent and I may agree with the asking price that the Leafs are looking for.

Kessel has been the victim of a brutal hockey market, something that new team President, Brendan Shanahan vows on changing and that begins and ends with the treatment of his players in the media.  I don't think there is any better indication about how powerful the relentless media people can be, dealing both in a player's concentration and defining what a player's value could be on the market.

The Toronto media comes across like a nagging spouse.  The quality of their questioning is one thing, one gawd awful steaming pile of horseshit, mostly, but relentless and we all know how exhausted a nagging spouse can be, thanks to the glorious age of television (right?).  After a number of years of that, you're bound to fall out of love and your heart is just not in it.

I think Kessel's talent is still there, but he needs to find the love of the game again and it isn't going to be in Toronto.

Here in lies the second problem... his value.  At 27 years old, Kessel still has time to put up some serious numbers in his career, but his greatest advertisers, the Toronto sports media, are constantly selling a lemon.  You can't tell me that, despite his overall skill, you don't have some General Managers with ample cap space underneath the ceiling, aren't looking at what is being said on a regular basis and getting cold feet about making a real offer.

The price tag on the scoring winger has to be high for the Maple Leafs, they are going to be trading away a 40-goal scorer and I think that it is a certain possibility, given he heads to a team that has decent service down the middle or a defenseman that can spring him on the rush.

At some point before the beginning of the regular season, there is going to be a team that has enough space under the ceiling, wants to break up with a large contract of their own and feels that they could settle on a guy like Kessel and both teams, the Leafs and their potential suitor, each come away making sacrifices and no one is truly happy in the end.  Except for Kessel, maybe.

If the media is going to be the advertising agency for Kessel, especially since they are big fans of the team, they may want to start selling this player, instead of trying to give him away for free on Kijiji.

Some would say that he's a motivated mover, who has scored 37 goals in a season (twice!) and has speed to burn.  I may shy away about how testy he has been with the local hacks or how irritable he can get with a bunch of cameras in his face after a sizable loss to a non-playoff team, but that's just me.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

I Want Expansion and I Don't Care Where

Personally, the thought of more teams playing in the +NHL has me awfully excited.  I think the game would benefit from not just one more team, but two, and that stems more from the long debate about the fairness of the schedule.  On top of that, I think there is a great deal of talent outside of the NHL, which could keep the game exciting and interesting for those who watch it on a regular basis.

All of that is great and all, but the real debate, which baffles me to a point, is where these expansion teams should be.  The viewing public has their pitchforks and torches out, clamoring on and on about why the league shouldn't move here or have a team there or allow expansion anywhere, like it greatly impacts their day-to-day life, bank account or sex life.  I'm thinking, what the hell is that all about?

Why does some Joe Schmoe in Winnipeg complain bitterly that an investor wants to put money into his favourite league, possibly lose his own money in the investment, putting a team in Las Vegas?  Why must this same Joe Schmoe argue that there should be a team in Quebec City or another team in Toronto?  Is he going to go to these games on a regular basis?  Will he profit from a team in Canada, rather than in the USA?  Is this guy less likely to tune into a Jets game, just because it is being played in Vegas, rather than Quebec?  I believe the answer to all of these questions is a resounding no.

Not only is this debate frustrating on the ears, when you pass by it in public, two guys sitting at a table in a pub, agreeing with each other incessantly about how terrible it is to have an NHL game played in front of only a few thousand people in Glendale, Arizona, it's even worse that our beloved media outlets, the +TSN and +Sportsnet broadcasts give voice to these nut jobs, as if it matters to the general viewing public.  Thanks to our general entertainers, we have to sit through an intense social media debate, facilitated to generate controversy, which equals ratings, which leads to a bigger revenue stream.  How sad.

Obviously, there is no money in trying to educate the general public on the benefits of just the expansion of any major sports league.  The dollars and cents are not coming from the kids that are still being educated in school, they are coming from the people who are out of school, not willing to learn anymore, because they don't have to.

The NHL has seen value in keeping the Coyotes in Arizona, that's a fact.  Okay, that's where that point ends, right?  I guess not.  It isn't enough that all the guys with all the money, the owners, are supporting the movement, watching dollars go down the drain on a franchise that struggles to break even.  My question would be, does this negatively impact the game itself?  Will there be one less team in the league, because of this?  No, not likely.  If the Coyotes are in dire straits, the league will make sure it moves to a destination that could give that owner a better shot at making money.

Ask me why I care again?  The profit or losses of an NHL owner are not my concern.

I watch hockey, because of the game itself.  There are some elements to today's game, where money does play a part, I won't argue that.  Salary cap numbers and salaries walk hand in hand, but those numbers have an impact on the team that I cheer for and allow me to form an educated opinion about my team.

In terms of salary cap talk, there are cap ceiling teams and there are budget teams, and yes, certain markets dictate the amount of money each team has to spend.  The Coyotes, for example, have been a budget team under the control of the NHL for the longest time, but the +Ottawa Senators, in hockey mad Canada, are also considered to be somewhat of a budget team.  At the end of the day, it isn't the amount of money that a team spends, it's how the money that they spend is spent, building the team, assessing the talent and hiring the people to manage and run the team on a hockey level.

The +Edmonton Oilers have been an in-between team at a spending level, but their poor management has seen them piss away talent and failed to win games on a regular basis.  People still flock to their games and the team earns money to spend on poor hockey decisions... again, not my problem.  I don't cheer for them, rather, I love it, because my team is a division rival.

I want hockey to be the best it can be and the game has improved by leaps and bounds, thanks in small part to expansion to non-traditional markets.  When kids in California are highlighting some of the draft years, you have to believe that expansion into California has done wonders for the game itself, taking athletic talent away from other sports, more dominant in those areas of the US and transplanting it into our beloved game.

How likely is it that a place like Las Vegas gives the league some of its own young talent in 10-to-15 years time?  Probably less likely, but that shouldn't dissuade any potential investor in the league to choose a rich, gambling city to put his footprint on.

Nevertheless, even if a team in Nevada fails outright, no one comes to the game and money hemorrhages out of the franchise, the league itself will get cozy with the idea that it has another source of overall revenue and band-aid the situation by tapping the shoulders of those investors that either want to keep the team in a losing market or move it to another location that has all kinds of potential to succeed or fail.

Again, it's not my money... why should I care?  There, I feel better now.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Jay Feaster's Letter to the Fans (Oct. 4)

My dearest Flames fans,

We, the Calgary Flames, have been informed that the NHL has indeed cancelled the first two weeks of the regular season, due to the current lockout and labour situation.  Regrettably, we will not be able to give our season ticket holders our inconsistent efforts to start the season, but as you may or may not agree, this could be very advantageous for our hockey club.

As the general manager of an NHL club that hasn't made the playoffs since 2009, I have come to notice that the number of games in the regular season has been one of our biggest detractors, in terms of making the playoffs.  So, with two weeks stricken from the schedule, we, as upper management, believe that this could be very beneficial to our team, since this would start our usual hot streak at the beginning of the season a little later than normal, taking away time from our sub-par mid-season form and getting us to our more desperate run for the 8th and final playoff spot a little sooner.

Of course, there is no guarantee that we will see hockey in the 2012-2013 season, so I would then recommend booking your tickets to our other sports operations that are based out of the Scotiabank Saddledome, which will keep our ownership group with a steady stream of income, while their flagship operation is still undergoing labour pains.

We appreciate your patience is this tough time and hope that the new bandwagon you have chosen to jump on during the lockout isn't too comfortable (or successful), so we can have your dollars flowing through our organization again in the coming months.

Lots of love, hugs and kisses, yours forever and always,

Jay Feaster
General Manager
Calgary Flames

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Return to Winnipeg


The Winnipeg fever is catching on and for good reason.  The deal was agreed upon to bring the Atlanta Thrashers up North to the capital city of Manitoba, bringing the great game of hockey back to the city of Winnipeg.

The joy that must be running through the citizens of Winnipeg must be fantastic, while the hockey fans that are in Atlanta, as many as there may be, are likely shattered with disappointment that they have once again lost an NHL franchise.

To me, I'm very much in the middle, between joy and disappointment, more so to the feeling of indifference.  There is no real argument in either direction that would likely change my feeling on this matter, especially since I don't really buy into the "Make It Seven" movement for the sake of having seven Canadian teams, nor am I really going to spend my time worrying about what kind of market these teams are residing in or moving to, because team or league revenue is none of my everyday concern.  It's not my bleedin' money, why should I care who is losing or making money?

I would be truly disappointed if the Thrashers, in this case, just folded and shut up their shop and didn't take any opportunity to relocate, going down to 29 teams would be a real disappointment.  I would probably be more elated if the NHL decided to expand to 31 or 32 teams, increasing the amount of talent we would get to see in the NHL in any given season.  Relocation just doesn't work the same way for me.

This isn't to say that this situation isn't interesting, because it really is.  There are all kinds of stories now surrounding this impending move that makes for a raised eyebrow or two.  Will players want to move to Winnipeg?  What kind of budget does the new ownership group have for the franchise?  What will the eventual divisonal re-alignment look like?  I think the hockey related questions are way more interesting than the cosmetic questions, like "what name will they finally decide to use?"

I'm sure Winnipeg and the MTS Centre will be a rockin' place for NHL hockey and they will have a good growing team to support.  I do hope for the best in Winnipeg, much like I did for Atlanta and continue to for Phoenix, because there are people who love this game in these cities and I can't imagine what it would be like if I couldn't cheer for my favourite team any more.  It's a heartbreaking thought and I do feel for those Thrashers fans that have now lost their team to the big business.

It may not be my biggest concern, but I suppose I have a little bit of nostalgia for the Jets name... I wouldn't mind seeing my favourite Canucks beat the Jets in the first round of the playoffs again.  That would have a heart-warming feel to it.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Quick Thought on Chara's Hit on Pacioretty

This sucks. I don't think I need a blog post to really say just that, but it does provide a good lead into it all.  No one wants to see a guy wrap his face around the glass stanchion like a car around a tree, period.

As a standard, I really try to take the speed of the game into consideration for a lot of these kinds of incidents and I think there really is a good argument for it, but there is a hefty argument working against Zdeno Chara, as he and Max Pacioretty, the victim of this awful event, have a bit of a history this season and there were enough strides and more than enough time leading up to the collision along the boards, that could suggest that the giant Slovak defenseman wasn't going to let up.

I'm not sure what kind of consideration Chara had, when both players approached the open stanchion, about putting Pacioretty into it at full speed, but I could pretty well assure you that he would have put all he had into the rub out if it was all glass and boards and nothing else.

Watching it over and over again, it's hard not to take the shove into some sort of consideration.  This again goes back to the speed of the game argument, which has a lot of valid points.  Watching the play in real time is the key, because that's what this has to really be judged on.  It looked to be a rub, but Chara has a few strikes against him, taking away some of his allotted 'benefit of the doubt.'

Personally, I'm not going to lose much sleep over this hit, it really sucked and I hope Pacioretty is okay after it is all said and done.  Any supplementary discipline, if there is any to speak of, likely won't be terribly severe, in my opinion.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Taking on the Kostopoulos Suspension Decision

The NHL decided to come down hard on Calgary Flames forward Tom Kostopoulos on Sunday afternoon, levying him a six-game suspension for his hit on Brad Stuart of the Detroit Red Wings, which left the veteran defenseman with a broken jaw.  This is quickly becoming a hot topic and I thought I would write my first post of the New Year on the Soapbox about this controversy.

Below, have a look at the video and get a look at the play in question.

Since the implementation of Rule 48 (Illegal Check to the Head), there has been plenty of focus surrounding this rule as a whole and possibly for good reason. There were a number of checks in the 2010 season, which were deemed questionable by good judgement, but also deemed legal, as there wasn't any elbows, sticks or charges into these checks, rather catching an opposing player unaware and striking a blow to his head. Fair enough, Rule 48 is in the books and it has been used off an on in the 2011 season to good measure.

As Mike Milbury contends (included in the clip below), and many agree to, including myself, the check does not fall under the guidelines of Rule 48, because the check was applied from the front, eliminating the first part of the rule.

Rule 48.1 -- Illegal Check to the Head – A lateral or blind side hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principle point of contact is not permitted.

Okay, I think that part is definitely lost in the heated nature of the argument and should be re-evaluated.  Since the hit shouldn't fall under Rule 48, we really should get away from referring to it, because it doesn't apply.

The call on the ice during the game was Kostopoulos receiving a 2-minute minor for roughing and no other penalties were given out on the play.  A roughing call does have a certain level of discretion applied to it by the referees in the game, especially in the sense that the game is so fast and goes beyond the field of view for most referees.  For argument's sake, let's have a look at the letter of the law for a roughing call...

Rule 51.1 -- Roughing – Roughing is a punching motion with the hand or fist, with or without the glove on the hand, normally directed at the head or face of an opponent.

Roughing is a minor altercation that is not worthy of a major penalty to either participant. (An altercation is a situation involving two players with at least one to be penalized).

Although the play does not involve a punch, rather a shoulder in a clean check fashion, it likely shouldn't have been deemed a roughing call, more than an interference call, at best.

Since the call on the ice was indeed a roughing call, the NHL league offices do have the ability to levy supplemental discipline under Rule 51.4.

Rule 51.4 -- Fines and Suspensions - There are no specified fines or suspensions for roughing, however, supplementary discipline can be applied by the Commissioner at his discretion (refer to Rule 28).

Despite the use of the roughing rule was possibly applied improperly by the letter of the law, you could argue that applying supplementary discipline should not apply to this case. Which I think is a fair argument to use.

But wait! There's more. Let's actually refer to Rule 28 for argument's sake.

Rule 28.1 -- Supplementary Discipline - In addition to the automatic fines and suspensions imposed under these rules, the Commissioner may, at his discretion, investigate any incident that occurs in connection with any Pre-season, Exhibition, League or Playoff game and may assess
additional fines and/or suspensions for any offense committed during the course of a game or any aftermath thereof by a player, goalkeeper, Trainer, Manager, Coach or non-playing Club personnel
or Club executive, whether or not such offense has been penalized by the Referee.

If an investigation is requested by a Club or by the League on its own initiative, it must be initiated within twenty-four (24) hours following the completion of the game in which the incident occurred.

Boy, oh boy... I think we have ourselves a winner.  At the league office's discretion, any incident on the ice can be reviewed and subject to supplementary discipline, even if the play wasn't penalized by the referee.  I would also take that as penalized correctly by the referee, for this instance in particular.

Let us also go back in time, to the not-so-distant past, to when the hits to the head to unsuspecting players was a hot button topic.  The league, executives and most of its players were in general agreement that these hits should be removed from the game, period.  With that being said, most people would also agree that Rule 48 isn't perfect, despite it being very clear in its wording.

So, finally, let's review what Colin Campbell had to say about his decision in his statement on Sunday afternoon.

"A number of factors were considered in reaching this decision," said NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell.

"Kostopoulos delivered a blow to the head of an unsuspecting and vulnerable player. As well, he targeted the head of his opponent and, while the hit was not from the blindside, the head was the principle point of contact.

"The fact that Brad Stuart was not in possession of the puck when the blow was delivered and the serious nature of the player's injury were also considered in my decision."

The league outlined the fact that the hit in question was not a blindside or lateral hit, thus eliminating Rule 48 from the argument, but a serious injury was caused during the play where an unsuspecting player took a blow to the head, without possession of the puck, did take place and punishment was deemed appropriate.

To sum it all up, from my perspective, this isn't a decision with the letter of the law, rather a decision that exercises good judgement. If Brad Stuart was not seriously injured on the play, this play would have had a short debate about Rule 48, have it quashed and Kostopoulos would be able to dress in the Flames next game.

The injury, which was a result of a blow to the head, because you can't break someone's jaw by hitting them in the chest, was a key reasoning factor, not to mention the appearance of the hit did look somewhat vicious.

I'm a big supporter of clean checks to the head, I don't think there is any way to get around them in a lot of instances, but I can at least see the reasoning behind the unsuspecting player aspect of the whole thing.  This will be the kind of hit and supplementary discipline decision, which will likely incur a revision to the rule for the sake of better judgement.