Archive for the ‘Debates’ Category

Edmonton Oilers v Chicago Blackhawks

If you’re a hockey fan, you’re used to controversial hits.  They happen every night.  If you really wanted to, you could spend all day, every day, all season long doing nothing but watching videos of borderline thwacking and fighting with people on the internet about whether they were dirty or not.

But in last Monday’s Hawks-Oilers game, fans were treated to a rarer spectacle: a controversial non-hit. Nail Yakupov got the puck in the D-zone along the boards.  Daniel Carcillo lined him up from the circle.  Yakupov dished the puck up towards the blue line.  Carcillo decided to finish his check. Yakupov turned back towards the corner and ducked.  Carcillo launched himself, somewhat comically, into brainless glass.  And, at the next whistle, commentator Eddie Olczyk freaked out.

If you are Nail Yakupov of the Edmonton Oilers, you cannot do that to a player that’s coming. That’s a dangerous play by Nail Yakupov, because what happens is, when you duck like that, that player is going to go over the top of your shoulder and hit his face or his neck against the boards. To me, that should be a penalty on Yakupov. I see it at the amateur level; I’d like to see USA Hockey and amateur referees take control of that type of play. I hope it’s not being taught by coaches, but that’s a dangerous play. Somebody’s going to get really hurt when a player ducks like that.

Olczyk is right that Yakupov’s decision to duck is potentially dangerous for Carcillo.  If Carcillo is moving a little faster, if Yakupov is a little further off the boards, if the seconds and inches go wrong, Carcillo’s head could have hit that glass in a most icky way. Someone could surely have been hurt.

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Hard Times

Being against this is easy. Figuring out how to prevent it is hard.

Now is a hard time to be a hockey fan. Granted, there have always been moral tensions surrounding the game.  The sport has been full of brutal violence and crass exploitation for nearly a hundred years, and neither of those things have ever been easy to stomach. But this season, a creeping understanding of the long-term dangers of brain injuries that had been brewing beneath the surface of hockey for half a decade finally exploded into the mass consciousness. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that a lot of hockey people, at every level of the game, have suffered a crisis of conscience this season about what it means to love this sport. And the playoffs? Oh, honey, if you’re feeling traumatized by this postseason, get in line.

Understandably, there has been a lot of outrage.  This is a good thing. It’s a necessary first step. The building outrage over the NHL’s inadequate concussion-prevention policies and concussion-treatment protocols has brought the issue to the forefront of hockey discourse. It’s forced a conversation that a lot of people in the League offices would prefer not to have. It’s shown that fan sentiment and media muckraking can indeed have an impact on the direction of the game.

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Erik Karlsson is a six-foot, 180 pound 21-year old from Sweden. Erik Karlsson plays for the Ottawa Senators. Erik Karlsson might be the NHL favourite to win the Norris Trophy.

Before you get all up in arms, let’s talk. Or rather, let’s listen to someone else together.

Earlier today Ian Mendes of Sportsnet wrote a story simply titled “Karlsson a Norris Candidate” that outlined some interesting tidbits about how his season stacks up against past winners.

Of note: Karlsson is now 17 points ahead of the next highest scoring d-man in the NHL, Brian Campbell. That’s first in D points (57), first in D assists (45, 3rd most overall), and 2nd in D goals (12, one behind Jason Garrison).

If he pots a couple more on the way to the finish line, he could finish 1, 1, 1. That ain’t too bad, last I checked.

Mendes takes a look at how defencemen who’ve led every category have fared over the past 30 years in Norris voting:

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Not that long ago, Brad Marchand was suspended five games for this clip on Sami Salo.

What sucked about it for me, was that I felt as though he didn’t need to do it. I didn’t think it was in self-defense (contrary to the persepective of a few Boston writers), which is easily demonstrated by watching the last time those two guys came together during a similar play and threw legit bodychecks….10 seconds earlier.

This “clip” on Alexei Emelin wasn’t nearly as bad (if a clip at all), but it is yet another case of Marchand playing duck, duck, goose.

What’s your call – is this another suspendable clip for a guy who would qualify as a “repeat offender,” or is this just a reputation call? Hell, is it even a penalty?

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