April 18 2012 08:52AM
1. Boooo Brendan Shanahan you bum
It really isn't easy heading up the NHL's department of player safety. Ask Colin Campbell.
That having been said, Brendan Shanahan has done a spectacularly poor job this postseason, and everyone has delighted in pointing it out for every missed call and Shea Weber fine. Frankly, it's a little easy to go, "Well he's not suspending stars, only rookies!" and that much is true.
But guess what, dinguses, this is the National Hockey League. Star players get the benefit of the doubt. Always have, always will. Shanahan's no different. You don't get to be mad at him about that.
His mistake was rampaging out of the gates at a billion miles an hour handing down huge suspensions to bigger-name players as a means of setting an example. There have been more than a few reports since then of both the Players' Association and Board of Governors not being in any way happy about that, and you can be sure that the BOG in particular leaned on him heavily to cut that out right quick.
Think of it as Shanahan skating with a 50-pound weight behind him. He can't go around levying three-game bans for Shea Weber because holy hell can you imagine the hellstorm that gets kicked up if he does that? But if he can do it for guys no one cares about, like Carl Hagelin and Andrew Shaw, maybe someone somewhere will smarten up and not drill their opponent in the head with an elbow. I have to imagine that's the kind of thinking to which Shanahan has found himself forced to resort to.
Of course, that doesn't explain how Matt Carkner only gets a game for suckering Brian Boyle, but that's just Old Time Hockey and all that, I'm sure.
The point, I guess, is that I'm not sure where anyone gets off acting like Shanahan was ever going to be able to change a fundamentally corrupt system. None of this is his fault.
2. Brent's sour grapes
Was positively delighted to see that video of Brent Sutter acting like he had a particularly large say in a potential return behind the Calgary bench. He would have turned down the extension had they offered it? Okay sure, Brent.
If Jay Feaster really did want to bring in "his own" guy to run the bench, well then guess what, bud: the call wasn't yours to make. Now I will say that all this is pretty much good for both parties. Calgary gets a coach the team hasn't completely tuned out (by all accounts), Sutter gets the chance to try his hand in international competition and, just maybe, for a youthful fun-and-gun Oilers team. Hey, Sutter already has a lot of experience not making the playoffs in Alberta.
That's a win-win situation as far as I can tell.
3. Who's at the front of the line?
And now, with Sutter's old job sitting vacant, we're seeing a lot of talk about just who will take over from him.
QMI had a pretty definitive list the other day, including Troy Ward of the Abbotsford Heat, Bob Boughner of the Windsor Spitfires, Bob Hartley of ZSC Lions, Craig MacTavish(!) of the Chicago Wolves and Mike Sullivan of the New York Rangers.
I wouldn't be opposed to any of them, per se, but it's tough to say definitively given how close to the vest the organization is playing its plans for next year. Each have their positive qualities and, to an extent, their drawbacks, which should give anyone backing a particular horse a certain amount of pause.
And then on Marek vs. Wyshynski yesterday, Jeff Marek floated the idea that Todd McLellan might take over behind the bench if (when?) he gets canned in San Jose. That would be interesting as well, but for wholly different reasons. He's a very good coach who has a wealth of experience working with an older roster of veterans who should know what to do without being told, but I wonder whether that kind of coaching will work with the kids if the team decides to go young.
Lots of viable candidates, but I'm going to reserve judgment until we have a more definitive picture of what Feaster wants from this team going forward.
4. No one in Caps/Bruins debate has a leg to stand on
The Boston media kicked up a big old fuss over Dale Hunter's comments following Game 3 in that series. How hypocritical, a guy talking about the right and wrong way to play the game when he LITERALLY tried to murder every player on the opposing team on a nightly basis during his 17-year career what a jerk!
Of course, this ignores that the Bruins are perhaps the dirtiest team in the league and, not unlike a bad guy in an Encyclopedia Brown story, proud of it. So because Nicklas Backstrom very obviously crosschecked Rich Peverley in the face at the end of Game 3, neither team gets to say the other is dirty or not dirty, because in this case, they both are. That's fine.
I don't know why everyone gets so hung up on which team is dirty and which isn't and what it all means. Every team in the league has at least one or two players who "play on the edge" and are therefore going to occasionally get called out for being on the wrong side of the law. Some teams have more, none have less. And so when it gets into an issue of who's classy and who isn't, that's a debate that should just go away forever.
Can't imagine how anyone supporting — oh, I'm sorry, "covering" — a team with Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic on it gets to call anyone a hypocrite for pointing out when things are dirty.
5. The first round is the best thing about hockey season
Watch any of these games and tell me different. You're glued to your TV for three or four super-meaningful games a day, every day for two weeks. It's perfect. What else could you want?