Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Like The Neutral Zone Trap

Hockey Blog In Canada is going on a smothering forecheck today by attacking all the major stories in one swift motion. Unlike Jacques Lemaire-coached teams, though, I'll be packing a little excitement into this game via some off-the-cuff remarks and goofy comments. There are a number of things that I've seen over the last couple of days that need to be talked about, so I figured I'd cover them all like a 1995 New Jersey Devils team. You know, relentless attacks and patient defence through systematic turnovers. I might even throw a few segueways in just to make it look like a coherent defensive system. In any case, I'm just hoping that this isn't as boring as a Jacques Lemaire-approved 2-1 defensive battle.

1st Period: Brian Burke Accepts Demotion/Free Agency

Brian Burke's acceptance of a demotion today to the position of "special consultant to CEO Michael Schulman" has the hockey world looking squarely at the city of Toronto in terms of where Burke will end up. Toronto fans are nervously pacing as they prepare to wet themselves, but there needs to be some rational thought handed out here. And since Leaf fans think they have a shot at the Stanley Cup every year, I'll make my case for them.

I understand that Cliff Fletcher isn't a long-term viability for the GM position in The Big Smoke. But is Brian Burke the guy you really want? Is he the man who will dig you out of the working grave you currently see your beloved Leafs in?


Burke has done a lot of good things in Anaheim, but the blueprints for a successful team were already being processed. Granted, Burke landed Niedermayer, Pronger, and Selanne, but his other moves have been more than questionable in terms of who he brought in. Doug Weight? Zero impact. Brendan Morrison? The jury is still out. Todd Bertuzzi? Oops. Letting Ilya Bryzgalov walk? His bad.

No one can take away what Burke did in Anaheim. He changed a non-hockey market into a thriving hotbed of hockey-mad citizens, but a lot of that comes with winning. You put a winner on the ice, and the people will support you. Everyone loves a winner. But he won a Stanley Cup, and that's not up for debate.

In Toronto, however, he'll be working with a pile of question marks and unknowns. Essentially, he's back to where he found himself when he took over in Vancouver after the Mike Keenan era. If he's willing to sink a pile of money into scouting and development, Brian Burke will need a minimum of four years to turn the Maple Leafs into an Eastern Conference power.

Are you willing to invest that kind of patience in this team, Toronto fans?

2nd Period: Revamp The Hockey Hall of Fame

Speaking of patience, what's wrong with the Hockey Hall of Fame and their induction committee? How long do some players have to wait?

The Hockey Hall of Fame inducted four deserving men on Tuesday, and these four men had lasting legacies on the game. Igor Larionov's international career is second-to-none, Glenn Anderson was nearly a point-per-game player in his NHL career, Ray Scapinello didn't miss a game in his career as a linesman, and Ed Chynoweth built Canadian junior hockey and the Western Hockey League into what it is today.

But here's the first problem: let's jump into the 21st century and start inducting women into the players' category.

How many phenomenal female players should already be inducted? Cammi Granato, Cassie Campbell, Manon Rheaume, and Hayley Wickenheiser are almost nods to make the first cut. There are a pile of other women who could also have their names thrown into the mix, but there are still no women in the Hockey Hall of Fame alongside the men despite their achievements.

Here's what I propose for the 2010 induction: one of the four potential inductees must be an international hockey figure. If you think about it, the only player who is in the Hall of Fame as a player currently who never laced up his skates in the NHL is Vladislav Tretiak. Yet it is the Hockey Hall of Fame.

So why not designate one of the four spots as an international hockey spot? The women have been held back long enough at the Hockey Hall of Fame. It's time to make them equals with all the other great players out there.

And if your argument is that women's hockey is not the same as men's hockey, I guess we can remove the first seventy players inducted into the Hall of Fame since Howie Morenz, "Rocket" Richard, Newsy Lalonde, and King Clancy never played the game like NHL players do today. Otherwise, your argument is as sexist as telling women to "go back to the kitchen" where they belong.

3rd Period: KHL Risks More Lives

Speaking of things being different, the KHL needs to start wiping the egg off its face.

The KHL announced that five players out of 49 players tested have returned results that show heart problems. That's basically 10% of their rookie class, and that's a scary thought in the wake of the Alexei Cherepanov tragedy.

I'm all for testing of the players when it comes to their health, and especially so if it can save lives. While none of the names have been released to the public, testing will continue through to Friday, meaning that more could join the five players who have already been identified.

Does this not frighten anyone else? In the last paragraph in his statement regarding the Cherepanov tragedy, KHL President Alexander Medvedev stated, "The KHL is committed to the safety of our players and will ensure that all member teams provide the highest level of medical care for our players. We will have more information to share in the coming weeks."

Shouldn't Medvedev have had his teams doing their due diligence prior to the season with training camps and fitness tests? It's almost as if he is stating that the KHL overlooked the fitness testing just so they could get their season going. The part of "will ensure" seems to indicate that the KHL is reacting to the death of Cherepanov rather than being pro-active.

Maybe I'm just reading too much into his statement, but I'm becoming a little skeptical of the KHL's due diligence in medical matters - no on-site defibrillators, no pre-season medical testing. I'm not so sure I'd want to be playing over there with this kind of reaction.

Here's a thought, KHL: without players, you don't have a league. Does that make sense to you?

Post-Game Reaction: This is where you, the readers, get to comment on my efforts. You can tell me I'm right or wrong, you can agree or disagree, or you can simply weigh in with your own thoughts in the comment section. It's like a radio call-in show... except you write what's on your mind rather than talking to some voice on the radio. Hit me up with your post-game comments, and I'll address them as best I can.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!


Kirsten said...

Ugh. Brian Burke. He makes me mad just thinking about what a douche he is. I'd probably be even more upset if he were my GM than I am with DR, and that's saying something.

Secondly, I would fully endorse seeing female players in the Hall of Fame. Cassie Campbell is fucking awesome.

Anonymous said...

The US Hockey Hall of Fame inducted Cammi Granato this year, so i don't see what the Hockey Hall of Fame's major malfunction is.

Johnson said...

Argh. I am so sick of this Brian Burke in Toronto talk. Every time this guy takes a dump the Toronto media gets a chubby.

He would indeed need, as will any coach, some time to see any efforts bare fruit with what has for years been an absolutely shit team. Sorry Toronto, it's true.

Why not give Fletcher a chance?
A winning coach isn't going to sweep in and fix Toronto, they need to focus on scouting and trading for young talent...Or they could just fold up the team and those of us in Southwestern Ontario could just root for the Red Wings. Hey, Leaf fans, you'd get to see the post season.

Lastly, amen Kirsten, Cassie Campbell is fucking awesome.

Teebz said...

Well said, everyone.

It seems that:

(a) Brian Burke's hype is bigger than he is.
(b)the HHOF is light years behind everyone else.
(c)Cassie Campbell might be the most heralded women's player to date.