Thursday, 27 September 2007

Being Busy = More To Write

Sometimes, I find that life just sort of creeps up on you and blindsides you with a swift kick to the gut. With volleyball starting on Tuesdays, hockey starting on Fridays, and various other things that have to be done, I find my writing pace has slowed. I vow, with all of my readers as witnesses, that once the NHL season starts, I plan to go back to my intended daily writing. The off-season doesn't really give a lot of stories, so that could be part of it. In any case, HBIC (Hockey Blog In Canada, in case that acronym wasn't obvious) will be kicked into high-gear in the next three days. Get your reading glasses on because the season is long.

Oh, Steve Downie. Are you kidding me? Let's break this down in terms of the video.

At the :06 mark of the video, you can see Steve Downie break off his man as he realizes that Dean McAmmond is going around the net. At the :07 second mark, McAmmond is making his way behind the net as Downie sizes him up. At the :08 second mark, McAmmond enters an area behind the net within the trapezoid called "Death Valley". This area is where the majority of players have received concussions in the last couple of years.

Colby Armstrong on Saku Koivu. Raffi Torres on Jason Williams. Steve Downie on Dean McAmmond. These three hits have one thing in common: the hittee was coming around the net while trying to make a play, and the hitter went shoulder-to-face with the hittee.

Here's where I have a problem, and I'll draw you a clear picture of why Steve Downie should be suspended for, at minimum, 20 games, if not for an entire season:

1) He glides into the zone, and then takes three strides after breaking off his man to increase his speed.
2) He leaves his feet, thereby increasing his speed again at the point of contact.
3) He had no intention of going shoulder-to-chest by propelling himself upwards with the jump into the face of an opposing player.
4) Downie is horizontal in the air at one point, proving that, indeed, he had gained speed and power by leaving his feet.
5) By catching McAmmond with his head down, he gave McAmmond no chance to brace for a hit that drove McAmmond's head and shoulders into the boards after the hit.
6) Downie risked his own head and neck area by crashing into the boards head-first after the hit.
7) McAmmond did not have the puck at the time of the hit, making this a violent and blatent interference penalty, and should be deemed "an attempt to injure".

"The timing of this whole hit couldn't be better. We watched a video on blows to the head in training camp," McAmmond explained at Scotiabank Place on Thursday.

"For this hit to come about now, it makes it more amplified. It's up to the league that they send a message to cause guys to think about hits like that."

Look, "finishing your check" is one thing. Destroying another player's career with a headshot is another. Steve Downie, you should be ashamed of yourself. Personally, if I were the coach of the Flyers, John Stevens, I'd cut Downie from the team. He has zero respect for the game, zero respect for his peers in the game, and zero respect for the conduct that makes great players fun to watch.

"For the good of Steve Downie, he needs to be suspended for a long time," said Senators' head coach, John Paddock. "For him to be in the NHL when he's 24, the best thing for the league to do is to take it away from him for a while. We all know his history in the OHL. Hockey is the most important thing to him. So take it away from him."

Steve Downie is a hard-nosed player who plays the game with an edge. I've watched him at the World Junior Championships where he was one of the hardest-working players game in and game out. However, this is a pre-season NHL game. If you're going to "finish your checks" like that, you better be prepared to fight every game. Old-time "Broadstreet Bullies" hockey left Philly in the early-1980s. It appears that if Steve Downie makes the Flyers, old-time Flyers hockey may return.

In fact, here's the return date: Saturday, November 24, 2007. It's a Hockey Night In Canada game as well, so I'll be tuning in, especially if Downie somehow makes the Flyers this season. Brian McGrattan has already given the obligatory "you're dead" speech for the next game, so this one should be a nasty affair.

RIP, Mr. Wirtz: For all the bad things that have been said about Mr. Wirtz and his ruling over the Blackhawks, this writer is saddened by the loss of one of the men who stood for tradition in the NHL. Mr. Wirtz was responsible for the United Centre being built, and he was involved in a host of philanthropic activities in and around the Chicago area. His battle with cancer was largely overlooked by most people, but he should be remembered as a man who was passionate about the NHL. Rest in peace, Mr. Wirtz. This writer wishes your family nothing but the best.

Ve-Sieve Toskala: If you're a Leafs fan and you complained about Andrew Raycroft last season, you're probably pretty worried about this season already. Vesa Toskala got shelled by the Barney Rubble Hairpieces, and has looked pretty average so far in the pre-season. In fact, it might have been the reason why he was the backup to Nabokov in San Jose. Just don't tell John-Fergie-Junior that. He's convinced that Toskala is the answer. If the Leafs don't make the playoffs, you know who to tar, feather, and lynch... and his last name isn't Toskala. It does rhyme with Jerkuson, though.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!


Anonymous said...

being responsible for the united center is *not* something to be proud of.

Teebz said...

Unless you're Bill Wirtz or Jerry Reinsdorf, you may have that opinion. However, I never said that anyone was proud of it.

Marie said...

I couldn't believe how much air Downie got. It's like that photo of Bobby Orr flying across the ice except for the facts that Downie is not even close to being any kind of hero and he wasn't scoring a goal, but rather chopping someone's head off. Good analysis on the hit, very well described.

Adam C said...

I disagree that the hit was interference. If a defenceman had been standing at the side of the net when McAmmond came flying around - and if he didn't jump at his head - this would have been a clean hit. McAmmond had the puck just half a second earlier and was rapidly making his way into scoring position. You have to be able to line a guy up in that situation.

I won't argue with 20 games though. This was certainly charging twice over, and I agree that he deliberately aimed for McAmmond's head. If Downie honestly had no 'intent to injure' as he claimed, then he should be suspended for stupidity.

I don't think he'll get 20 games, though, because the NHL reserves that level of suspension for transgressions that make national news coverage in the US.

...if only Bill Wirtz had been passionate enough about the NHL to share it with the people of Chicago...

Teebz said...

Hey Adam. Good comment. However, if you watch the video again, he dishes the puck off on the right-side of the net before taking Downie's shoulder on the left side of the net. The puck was nowhere near the area where the hit took place. That, by all definitions of the rule, is interference in my book.

Rule 67 in the NHL rulebook deals with interference. Rule 67a reads "A minor penalty shall be imposed on a player who interferes with or impedes the progress of an opponent who is not in possession of the puck." Downie committed this infraction.

Rule 67c reads "A minor penalty shall be imposed on an attacking player who deliberately checks a defensive player, including the goalkeeper, who is not in possession of the puck." Downie committed this infraction.

As a notation, "The last player to touch the puck, other than the goalkeeper, shall be considered the player in possession. The player deemed in possession of the puck may be checked legally, provided the check is rendered immediately following his loss of possession."

In the case of McAmmond, the goaltender had blocked the pass, so McAmmond was not the last player to touch the puck. Therefore, Downie's hit is interference according to the NHL rulebook.

I agree that he'll probably get a slap on the wrist from the NHL. It's the wrong thing to happen, but it's the precedent that has been set. As for Mr. Wirtz, a new era begins. Hopefully, the results are better than the last 16 years.

Eighty-Two said...

Jeez, could you have imagined if Downie would've missed McAmmond and got the boards? He might not be alive.

Despite my hatred for the Flyers and my disgust for the incident, I truly believe Downie did not attempt to injure. I've been there in a hockey game, seeing a player with his head down and wanting to drill him to cause reaction for my team.

I think in today's NHL, it's too easy with the strength and agility of the players and the lightweight skates to get carried away into such a dangerous hit.

It's good the apology has come, but I think he deserves at least - if not more than - 20 games for that rush of blood and lack of self-control.

Adam C said...

You might be right - looking at it again (repeatedly), there may indeed be one extra 'beat' in there before the hit takes place. My first impression was that it was more or less "immediately" following the loss of possession. It's hard to judge; the extreme lunge toward the head makes everything look worse...

Downie didn't violate 67(c), though - McAmmond was the attacking player. Of course, 67(c) seems irrelevant given the existence of 67(a), but that's the NHL rulebook for ya...

Anonymous said...

Bertuzzi, Pronger, and now Downie, cheap shots that can end a player's career or even life has no place in hockey. Send a message, send Downie out of the NHL for crap like that.

Teebz said...

82 - I don't think he intentionally tried to injure McAmmond, but any headshot should be treated as such, especially when he could have gone shoulder-to-chest with same ferocity and gotten just as big a pop from the fans and his teammates. I've taken the same kind of hit in hockey, so I guess I'm a little biased, but I honestly think headshots should warrant a suspension.

Adam - you're right about there being a split second, but it takes that much time to decide whether Downie should hit McAmmond's head or chest. As for Rule 67c, you're right. However, it seems the rulebook is a little off at most times. :o)

Randy Charles Morin said...

Sorry guys, but you are nothing less than band wagon jumpers. McAmmond had the puck less than 1/2 second before the hit. It's long been said that that constitutes possession. You have 2 seconds to hit him. Downie's hit was wrong, but you don't know why.

Teebz said...

Randy - Where in the rulebook does it say that you have two seconds? I believe I went over the exact reasons it was wrong, thank you. He broke off his man and sped up, he left his feet and jumped into the face of McAmmond, and McAmmond did not have possession since the Philly goaltender had played the puck.

Taking three strides into a check is charging; leaving your feet on a check is charging; hitting McAmmond into the boards at the distance he did is boarding; and hitting McAmmond away from the puck as he did is interference.

Tell me again why I don't know why it's wrong?