Saturday, January 30, 2010

Who Doesn't Love HDIC?

PhotobucketAs if Hockey Day In Canada isn't the best thing to happen in Canada since Hockey Night In Canada.

I know, it really isn't a far stretch from one to the other, but there is so much more meaning when you talk about an entire day devoted to the game of hockey and then have a broadcast of three games with all six Canadian teams.

The CBC doesn't need me to say it again, but this is my soapbox, so I'll do so, but the Hockey Day In Canada broadcast really shows us all how the game of hockey isn't just a sport, but its a real community from coast to coast, as in so many cases, the game has had some sort of impact on all Canadians.

Big fans, players, coaches and families of the game can feel proud to be Canadian on a day like today, because the game, the sportsmanship and the competition has really shaped our psyche and moulded our nation into what it is today.

I really enjoy watching the coverage, the stories and especially the games... or as much as I can pack in to the day. Today, I'll watch as much as I can, but I know I'll have to pull away for a little while... but the doubleheader tonight is definitely on my agenda.

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Fistric's Fine or... How I Learned to Love the NHL System of Discipline

Well, this decision is going to bring some real debate, as the NHL has decided to fine Mark Fistric $2,500 for taking the helmet off of Eric Nystrom and having it make contact with Nystrom's head in the fight.

I thought that the match penalty that was assessed to Fistric was a good call on the ice, the helmet was either held onto or caught by the hand of Fistric as he motioned towards Nystrom and in real-time, I'm sure it looked as bad as it does in the replays.

Personally, I thought Fistric was going to get suspended for this and rightfully so. The way I saw it was when Fistric had the helmet in his possession, he actually made more of a clubbing motion to use the helmet as a weapon, instead of throwing a jab or an uppercut, which would have made the contact seem a little more incidental.

Over time, I, much like a lot of media outlets and other fans, have been gathering criteria, which is not official, by any means, on how the NHL (and other large competitive hockey leagues) likes to dole out their disciplinary actions.
  1. First-time versus repeat offender
  2. Circumstance of the hockey play beforehand
  3. Relation to a hockey play
  4. The offense itself
  5. Result of the controversial action (injury)
Those are the five that immediately come to mind and really stick out to me and I would be eager to compare these five with other major suspension or disciplinary handouts that have previously happened. Of course, this is a very slippery and sliding scale to work with, because it all comes down to personal judgment and it's not us fans to decide what punishment a player is to receive. All the fans can do is try and reason why... or in most cases complain about what actually transpired.

So, saying that... I personally expected Fistric to be suspended. Despite his reputation of not being a generally dirty player, the fight happened after a clean hit, a fight is considered to be a hockey play of sorts and there was no injury relating to the incident itself. That's four of the five right there, which would say to me that a fine is okay, but the incident of swinging a helmet, with what looked to me to be an intentional swing, does trump the other four points, because of the nature of the action. Fistric, although it's only one swing, still seemed to have used the helmet as a weapon to get an advantage in the fight. I would have at least upheld the minimum automatic suspension in this case, because I believe there was intent there, but the video evidence does not do the grip of the helmet any justice, so the four other points really come into play.

I honestly believe that Colin Campbell does do a good job of keeping his integrity of the players, being a former player himself and it isn't going to change until the NHLPA or just a large group of players within the league say otherwise. I can't honestly say that I know that Campbell does a good job of drawing up memos that are sent to teams when he tries to justify his disciplinary actions, because they certainly are not public if they exist, but if there was one thing that I wish for on a regular basis is a public justification release.

Of course, if we had news releases justifying why players, coaches & management received fines or suspensions, the public would just have more cannon fodder to play with and debate about. Although most of the time, there isn't much for debate, rather just plain name-calling.

What I would like to see, now that judgment has passed from the Head Office of the NHL, is what players now have to say about it or even former players who are in the media on a regular basis. Only then do I have more of an understanding of what transpired, because players (both past and present) have been a part of the culture and should have some of the best opinions on the matter.

But until there are changes with the major hockey leagues of North America (and maybe to a lesser extent, Europe), we will battle on with what comes down the pipe. There doesn't seem to be any shortage of instances to talk about.

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Somewhat of a Mission Statement

I really love the internet for hockey purposes, I think its just the greatest tool in the world. You have the flexibility of people in every place where hockey in prominent and they do very well to keep everyone updated, if they so choose, of what's going on in their market, city or broad area (state, province or country).

I like to look at a lot of places for just generalized hockey news, just to collect for my Hockey Pool Domain blog, which is meant to service the people who are taking part in my hockey pools, combing out some of the usual information you might see in a regular news blog. Why should my poolies have to worry about players that don't necessarily impact their fantasy teams, which they may or may not have invested money in?

I also really like to collect rumours from the rumour mill, a few different websites that collect thoughts and quotes from "contacts" or "sources" around the league. Working the Rumour Mill takes some of the more complete rumours that I've seen around the blogosphere and turn them into a bit more of a discussion. It does really frustrate me when people assume that these rumours are meant to be the "sure thing" and they get all pissed off when they don't happen. Who cares, frankly? I like the idea of discussing the possibility that a certain player might be scouted by a certain team and then possibly building something around it. It's fun and it fills the bulk of the time that there isn't a game being played.

The invention of Twitter has been a wonderful tool as well, especially for short bursts of information and links to broader bits of hockey information, which is useful, fantastical or downright absurd. It's fun though. From Twitter, I like to gauge the reactions of controversial plays, trades and quotes and get a feeling of what the hockey world thinks. Granted, its a shaded microcosm of what the "whole" hockey world thinks, but it can give a rough idea. My Twitter feed does a lot more work surrounding the Canucks, but that's because I'm a huge Canucks fan. Let's face it though, you can't talk about one team the whole time or else you're just going to become stale and repetitive. So, I like to talk about other teams, taking the vantage point of the objective hockey fan... hell, I'll even respect the Flames and Oilers a little bit from time to time. It happens.

Overall, my goal with this blog site is to be a bit more of an objective hockey fan, just throwing thoughts and ideas out into the blogosphere, just for the sake of using more than 140 characters to do so. I do want to get some good hockey discussion going on this site, maybe even try to host a couple live blogs with friends, just so we can debate some more hockey in its more general form.

I don't want to be a hater, I just want to be a well-informed and well-rounded fan. Anyone care to join me?

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