Tuesday, 17 September 2013

How To Prove You're Insane

Normally, one doesn't go searching for ways to prove insanity. Our society tends to give sane people more slack when it comes to preposterous ideas, but those people can still be mocked if the idea is way out there. But rarely does our society give those people deemed to be insane much of a chance where logical and clear thoughts are required. It has become apparent that there is a growing population of insane people occupying powerful jobs in the northeastern United States of America, particularly in Buffalo, New York and Bristol, Connecticut. I'll illustrate why below.

Let's start with the Buffalo Sabres who as an organization, for all intents and purposes, seems to have lost all sensible thought-making processes since the season ended last year. Buffalo's personnel choices and contracts have always been somewhat questionable since the heady days of Hasek and Peca, but small markets sometimes have that effect on the teams that operate there. Case in point? The Buffalo Sabres' alternate jersey for this upcoming season.
I've already taken Buffalo to task over these uniforms once, so there's no reason for to become angry again in discussing all that is wrong with these uniforms. And there is lots. However, the above photo from the Sabres' media guide this season shows another little glimpse into the insanity that was incorporated into these uniforms. And you may not see it at first because you're overwhelmed with the garish design of this alternate uniform, but it's right there on the right shoulder of the jersey.

See the crossing swords aka sabres? That's the captaincy designation. ON THE SHOULDER. NOT ON THE CHEST.

UPDATE: I received several emails last night regarding how the Sabres' captaincy patches actually violate league rules. Rule 6.1 of the NHL Rule Book clearly states,
6.1 Captain - One Captain shall be appointed by each team, and he alone shall have the privilege of discussing with the Referee any questions relating to interpretation of rules which may arise during the progress of a game. He shall wear the letter “C,” approximately three inches (3'') in height and in contrasting color, in a conspicuous position on the front of his sweater. No co-Captains are permitted. Either one Captain and no more than two Alternate Captains, or no Captain an no more than three Alternate Captains are permitted (see 6.2).
Besides the spelling mistake in the last line, that passage clearly states that a captain must wear his designation "in a conspicuous position on the front of his sweater". NOT THE SHOULDER. From what I've heard, the NHL doesn't take kindly to teams ignoring the rules the NHL sets out for them to abide by, so we'll see if this ever gets to the ice. Thanks to all who emailed on this.

I had seen the image of the captaincy patches that Buffalo planned on wearing before, and I actually thought they were doing something cool to make their captains unique. Much like the Flames do with their captains, it appeared that the Sabres were going to do something that 28 other teams do not. Instead, the media guide reveals that the Sabres are doing something unique: losing their freaking minds!

I took a look at photos of their preseason game against Columbus, and the proof was in the photo as Christian Ehrhoff was wearing the regular captaincy block-letter designation. So the captaincy patches with the crossed sabres are only for the alternate jersey. I guess the Sabres, in some sort of lightning strike of intelligence, realized that a gold captaincy patch on a yellow background may not stand out very well. The next logical place to move that captaincy patch, obviously, is to the navy blue background on the shoulder. OBVIOUSLY.

Again, there is so much wrong with these alternate uniforms that it almost feels right to continue to screw up little details just to make this uniform so ugly that it becomes a "modern art masterpiece" as Gunnery Sgt. Hartman would say. In looking back at this whole uniform debacle, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the Sabres are a little too sane in that they willingly keep adding garish pieces to a horrific look. Maybe they're not insane at all, but so sane that I can't comprehend how great this design is when you bring together all of the elements they've thrown at this uniform.

Or maybe they are insane. And I'm very comfortable with that theory.

Who Needs ESPN?

I get that ESPN doesn't hold hockey in very high regards. I get that they believe that hockey highlights rank somewhere below poker results, pinewood derby race results, and the crowning of the winner of the Westminster Dog Show. I'm fully aware that ESPN's highlight pack consisting of 20 NHL games runs all of five minutes on SportsCenter. I get it, and I have no problem with how they run their business.

I do, however, take task with ESPN.com's continuing push to bring hockey to relevancy when they seemingly have no clue about the game. While I appreciate the opinions of guys like Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun, the "top 50" defencemen list they published is missing some key names and has some players ranked way beyond their abilities. I'm not sure who these "experts" are that they asked (even they use quotes to describe the experts they polled), but how this list made it through an editor - oh right, it's ESPN! - is beyond me.

First, Oliver Ekman-Larsson is a good defenceman, but he's in no way the ninth-best defenceman in the NHL. Not even close. Especially when you consider some of the names below him: Alex Pietrangelo, Brent Seabrook, and Francois Beauchemin most notably. He's not even in their league at this point.

Second, if you ask Jets fans who their best defenceman is, I guarantee you that the order you receive back is not Byfuglien-Enstrom-Bogosian. Sure, there might be a few people who place the Jets' blueliners in that order, but Bogosian would be ranked much higher by Jets fans than Enstrom at this point. Maybe I'm making a wild leap here, but I'm baffled at how that one played out.

Third, I'm pretty sure that these "experts" were choosing players based mostly on their offensive abilities and not their overall game. Some defensive defencemen made the list - Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi, and Kevin Bieksa, for example - but they missed a pile of outstanding defencemen who should have received more merit and/or votes. Guys like Travis Hamonic, Karl Alzner, and Niklas Hjalmarsson didn't even make the cut, but players like Kevin Shattenkirk, Fedor Tyutin, and Matt Carle did. And not to denigrate or call-out those three players' abilities, but are you kidding me, ESPN? I'll take Hamonic, Alzner, and Hjalmarsson any day of the week and twice on Sunday over Shattenkirk, Tyutin, and Carle. And I'd win 10 out of 10 times with those three guys.

I guess what I'm saying is that anything published by ESPN as a top-whatever list should be taken with a few grains an ocean's worth of salt. There is little reason to believe that this list is anything but one writer's favorite defencemen. ESPN, in true journalistic fashion, doesn't identify their "experts" either, so this list is being propped up solely by ESPN's reputation rather than by merit. If they asked the players, identify those who responded. Otherwise, don't label them as experts. That, readers, is horrible journalism rather than just plain ol' insanity.

I will say this: you'd have to be insane to publish something like that without identifying your experts. And you're obviously insane if you're listening to ESPN for any hockey information whatsoever.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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