In the past, Backhand Shelf has brought perspective from the many different angles of hockey. The doctors, the coaching, the strategy, thegoalies and more. In the future, we’ll periodically be bringing you stories from the oft-ignored person on the ice, the referee. If you’d like to share a Refs’ Perspective story with us, hit me up at Justin.Bourne@theScore.com.
Our first contribution comes from Stu Campana, a referee who works in the Netherlands’ 1st division (where Dale Weise spent the lockout). Thanks to him for sharing this story; we’re looking forward to having more from him. By the way, Stu also writes about renewable energy, so check out his blog here if you’re into that or want to know more about it.
-by Stu Campana
The first cookie clattered to the ice with a soft thunk, skittering toward the blueline like I might mistake it for some oatmeal-flavoured puck.
When a foreign object arrives on the ice, a referee’s situational analysis is fairly short. Either something has been accidentally dropped, or else my officiating has not met with unanimous approval. A second cookie ringing off my helmet narrows down the list. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s an obvious statement that shares the message coaches the world over have tried to drill through the thick skulls of players since their earliest days on the ice, yet one that seems to only get through to a select few: talk. Talk on the ice, talk, talk for the love of god. It is amazing what a difference it makes.
My college roommate shared a story with us about his junior days (we both had notoriously…aggressive, we’ll say? – junior coaches) about how he failed to call for passes too often for the coaches liking one practice, so he was made to sit in the penalty box and yell his own name on repeat. Read the rest of this entry »
Most hockey players who’ve played contact hockey have done something they regret within seconds of doing it. An error in judgement, a mis-read gone bad, or a quick flick of anger gone uncontrolled can leave your opponent writhing in pain and your conscience heavy. Occasionally on-ice violence is carried out with pre-meditated aggression, but often you feel the same reaction as when you miss an open net. Arms out to the sides, head up to the God’s, and a general “Oh man, why…” expression.
I generally believe kneeing is never in the pre-meditated aggression category, and always results in near-immediate thought “oh f*** what’d I do?,” even if you have to pretend it wasn’t all that bad and hey why is everyone so upset?
Kneeing generally comes from getting “locked in” on a hit (I’ve written about that before). You see a guy coming up the ice from a ways a way, note that he seems distracted and is putting himself in a vulnerable position, and think “I’m gonna light this guy up.” And, the intent is usually clean. “I’m going bury my shoulder into this punk’s chest, make him yard sale his equipment all over the ice, get the crowd on their feet, and we’ll take the puck and go the other way. That’s allowed in hockey.
This morning I had a Twitter exchange with a handful of folks from my usual tweet circle about the value of tough guys. In particular, @67sound was wondering why the mainstream media lauds them so much. His point was that as a linemate Brandon Prust is a “lead anchor” for the Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk trio (I’m assuming he’s using Corsi data for this) yet he’s heralded for “making room” for the two kids, and that this summer the media loved that the Sabres got Steve Ott and John Scott (though the team appears to have gotten worse), and that the Flames struggle because they don’t have a tough guy, and so on, and so on, and so on…
The mainstream media does love their heavies. They grew up in an era where enforcers logged real minutes and played alongside stars and won Stanley Cups. Obviously not all of the media grew up watching that, but you generally have to work your way up to get the best MSM jobs, so they generally aren’t the youngest guys. They’ve seen toughness take down talent before.
Still, the point I was trying to make in our discussion is that lumping guys like Steve Ott and Chris Neil and Brandon Prust in with the John Scotts is just wrong. There are tough guys, and there are guys that are tough to play, and there are guys that are tough to win against (skill guys). You always want elite talent, but nobody should argue that guys that are tough to play, even those that aren’t the most gifted, aren’t important pieces of a winning team. You need those guys. Read the rest of this entry »
I’m no goalie expert, so when I heard that the tender being called up to start for the Calgary Flames – Danny Taylor – wears his gear differently from others, I was intrigued and reached out for an explanation.
To say that NHL goaltenders are particular about their equipment would be a major understatement.
Try more like obsessive-compulsive.
If you were asked to stop slappers from Shea Weber and Zdeno Chara, you’d be a bit neurotic about your gear, too. And like all pro hockey players, as goalies get older, they gain an intimate comfort level in certain brands and modifications that allow them to use their tools of the trade with full confidence.
“Look good, feel good, play good,” is easily one of the most popular mottos spoken by goalies across the globe; these days, style and swagger seem like they might be as important as protection.
Hey, uh, you guys mind switching jerseys? Also, cities? Thanks.
I can’t claim to have played in the NHL, and I certainly can’t claim to have been traded from a team I had formed a strong affiliation to the way both James Van Riemsdyk and Luke Schenn now can. But I was traded once, and the two days later we played the team that had just traded me. Fun!
It’s an odd feeling. I had been with the Reading Royals of the ECHL for all of training camp (nearly a month, all-told) while rehabbing from a torn MCL I suffered at Hershey’s camp. I rushed it to get back for the first game of the Royals regular season, following which I was immediately moved to the Idaho Steelheads. Like I was saying: fun.
What I wanted, as JVR and Schenn likely did, was revenge. It’s not that a single game is going to prove anything all that much in particular, it’s just…f*** them, right? If somebody decides the best thing for their personal situation is to ship you to a different country or state, you’d at least like to make one day of their lives miserable, and you feel like you can do that with a good performance and a win. It’s one of the rare days where your own performance openly matters as much as a team “W,” and the boys know it. Naturally, they’re fine with it too. Read the rest of this entry »
Above is video of the St. Louis Blues post-game interviews after losing to the Los Angeles Kings 4-1 last night. That loss pushes the Blues to five straight games without earning two points, and in fact, they’ve only taken a single point total over that time, getting out-scored 26-11. Again: a Ken Hitchcock team has given up 26 goals in its last five games.
Skip ahead to the 2:00 mark to listen to David Backes’ comments about his team. For the video impared, the transcript is below (but you’re missing out on the murderous tone, which is also key):
“There’s no secret, it’s going out there and playing for the group. We got too many guys lookin’ at the stat sheet and wondering how many goal, and assists, and…cookies they got rather then taking a hit to make a play and getting run over so we can get a puck out so that your teammate can maybe have a three-on-two, or…so you can block a shot and kill a penalty when we really need it so we can stay in a game.
We just don’t have that desperation, that accountability, that responsibility to each other. Look at that team we played tonight, they all have that. They’re guys that are willing to get run over for the guy sitting next to them. I said it after the playoffs and it still rings true. We need all 20 guys to have that mentality, that ‘I’m willing to sacrifice my body and the stat sheet so that we can be successful,’ all 20 guys need to be willing to do that every single night, or else, we’re going to have too many interviews like this.”
By the way, 90% of North American hockey coaches just got wood reading that interview from a team captain. They LOVE that quote. Read the rest of this entry »