Canucks and Beyond
A lot of the criticism of Mario Lemieux and his stand against violence on the ice has come—justifiably—as a result of his employment of Matt Cooke. But for the NHL and for Lemieux himself, I would argue that Cooke’s long suspension couldn’t have come at a better time. For Lemieux, it allows him to put his money where his mouth is by not arguing with the league about the tough penalty imposed on his most contentious player. And for the league, they finally had an opportunity to slam a player hard for his on-ice behavior, in a situation that absolutely no one was going to argue about.
As Elliotte Friedman of CBC said yesterday, “Campbell’s been thrown a belt-high fastball. Now he’s got to crush it.” And so he did. Finally, a good PR outcome out of a bad PR situation.
But reading the editorials in recent days, I’ve been struck by how one-dimensional most people’s view of Cooke is. It’s like he’s been cast as a character from a horror movie that was born as pure evil, making up for his lack of hockey skills by using dirty tricks.
It’s an overly-simplistic view of Cooke’s career, in my opinion.
While the Canucks are in a .500 style slump (practically The End of Days, if you’re to believe the likes of Tony Gallagher) there’s still no shortage of positive editorial about Daniel Sedin lately, and his potential to make history. (Some thoughts from THN as well, pondering an MVP vote.)
But it’s going to be a horse race to the end, as this chart shows:
One thing I was struck by yesterday as speculation unfolded on various signings, is that hockey fans and journalists are often very willing to believe the worst things about hockey players, and usually without any substantial confirmation that those things are true.
The Dany Heatley drama appears to be a grand example of this. Ask nearly any fan today what he thinks of Mr. Heatley and odds are he’ll tell you that the guy is a lying sack of waste who screwed over his team for greed and some kind of internal drive to subject the world to his brand of pure evil.
Here’s one comment found on this website yesterday…
I think I can say, without Hyperbole, that Heatley is worse than Hitler.
...maybe even Yashin.
Well, at least Senators’ fans can still muster a sense of humor. Nontheless, most of the rhetoric floating around seems to go off the charts.
“Hockey is the Canadian metaphor.”
Bruce Kidd and John MacFarlane, from The Death of Hockey.
That quote was cited in this posting by Scott Russell today on CBC, where he pointed to the importance of playoff hockey in Canada’s national story, as it unfolds in the coming weeks.
This season, it’s the Canadiens, Canucks and Flames who carry the burden of a nation’s expectations and for the next seven weeks or so, we’ll all be watching these three standard bearers night in and night out as they conduct a Canadian crusade to recover the most precious of national treasures. Even the national news on the public network will accommodate the unfolding plot. And so it should, because in Canada there is little that matters more to the country’s sense of itself than the pursuit of what we believe is ours.
Hockey takes on enormous consequence in both news and watercooler talk during the playoffs in Canada, and not simply for the fans of teams at play but for hockey fans of all clubs.
Given that, which team will most Canadians get behind in the first round? Who is the favorite Canadian team (sentimental or otherwise) across the country to open the 2009 playoffs?
Earlier today, the news was buzzing about how fearful the Calgary Flames should be as the Canucks nip their heels in the Northwest Division race. Vicki Hall at the Calgary Herald made that point pretty clear, with a touch of humor:
Calgary’s preoccupation with everything Vancouver just escalated into an outright obsession.
So take those Sedin voodoo dolls out of the closet, Calgary fans. Deface that Kevin Bieksa pin-up poster. Vent your frustration by hurling that mini Roberto Luongo goalie mask through the garage door.
But now (and this should be much consolation to the Flames and their fans) Bill Clement at NBC Sports fires a warning shot towards Detroit and San Jose instead:
Yes, you read that right. Franchises losing money? Bah. Franchises losing fans? Double-bah!
Quotes from the Weekly World News indicate Gary thinks the NHL is BACK. And with a vengence, baby.
“I know there are reports that 11 of our 30 franchises, lost money last year”, said Bettman. “But honestly, we thought that number would be closer to 20, so we take that as a positive”.
Long ridiculed by hockey fanatics, for his lack of marketing and PR prowess, or understanding of the game itself, Gary is now being hailed by some as one of the few sports commissioners who situated his league well for an economic recession.
Clearly, the next logical step is expansion. Here’s the plan:
Sports reporting is news reporting, and if you doubt that, I would argue that you’re not paying enough attention. But while much is made of the roles of new media and their (or ‘our’) impact on the standards in journalistic coverage, very little is ever mentioned about the accepted standards within the mainstream media itself.
And there are some potential conflicts of interest that should be demanding more attention.
* Fiona Hughes’s article in the Vancouver Courier today is worth a mention. She was spurred to write about potential conflicts of interest in Canucks broadcasting coverage after witnessing the last Canucks/Habs matchup back on February 15th. She outlines the problem as she saw it, here:
From the Hockey Drunk, an observation about the fate of all coaches that led their teams in Europe a few months ago:
This came up in a discussion and I found it interesting enough to blog about. Of the 4 Teams that played in Europe before the 2008-2009 season officially started this year:
Ottawa: “Unable to turn around a team that reached the Stanley Cup finals in 2007, Hartsburg was fired as coach Monday just 48 games into a season in which the Senators have the NHL’s third worst record.”
Tampa Bay: “The Tampa Bay Lightning fired Barry Melrose after just 16 games in his return behind the bench, and associate coach Rick Tocchet will take over as interim head coach.”
Pittsburgh: “Michel Therrien, his team fading in the Eastern Conference playoff race less than a year after making the Stanley Cup finals, was fired as the Pittsburgh Penguins’ coach on Sunday night and replaced by minor league coach Dan Bylsma.”
And now today, of course, ends the tenure of Tom Renney with the New York Rangers. That’s 4-for-4 fired.
Hmmm… and who’s going to Europe to open next season? That would be Chicago, Florida, St. Louis and Detroit. And their fate?
Having disappeared from the hockey world for a week, it takes some major reading to catch up with the times. While I’ve got a long way to go, a quick skim through the past week’s news didn’t turn up much, but a few random observations.
Here’s my list—but feel free to supplement my 168 hour hockey information deficit with anything you think I gotta know.
...ergo, what happens on Facebook doesn’t stay on Facebook.
Photos of good times past, courtesy of one of Ray Emery’s Facebook friends:
About Canucks and Beyond
Alanah McGinley has been blogging hockey since 2003 (with a notable gap in time through 2010, kicking it with new baby Lucy while living knee-deep in chaos while reading "parenting for complete idiots" during every spare minute) sharing opinions, rants and not-so-deep thoughts with anyone who will listen.
In addition to writing Canucks & Beyond and helping manage Kukla's Korner, Alanah was one of the founders and co-hosts of The Crazy Canucks Podcast. She has contributed pieces to FoxSports.com and the New York Times Slapshot blog, as well as other stray destinations in cyberspace.
So that's me. Who the hell are you?
Alanah's Twitter: [@alanah1]