A little advice to those who get upset about the NHL All-Star Game and its
B) Selection process
C) Lack of competition
Relax! Take a deep breath. It’s all good. really, it is. During a lifetime spent either watching or working in hockey, I always enjoyed All-Star Weekend. It marked the chance to meet a lot of players you didn’t normally get to talk to in a relaxed environment and the inclusion of either former NHL greats or top rookies also added a dimension that I enjoyed.
Yes, I know, the vast majority of hockey fans weren’t “on the inside” and able to speak to players and the like. Very true. But that still doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the skills on display. Passing is often overlooked during the course of a game and in a free-flowing, offensive game like the All-Star Game, there is some sick passing going on. Enjoy it. Skating also is overlooked as an art form when cheering for your team, but watching the All-Stars, you get to appreciate how these guys make a skill that caused me countless bumps and bruises without any degree of success, look so damn easy.
Since the 2010-11 season ended, 11 NHL coaches have lost their jobs, with Terry Murray the unlucky 11th, getting the news that the Los Angeles Kings had changed the locks in the offices Monday.
When the news came down, you heard the usual platitudes tossed around when a respected professional like Murray takes the fall.
“It’s not his fault.”
“You can’t fire the players.”
“More was expected of the team.”
But the bottom line is—deserved or not—Murray paid the price for a disappointing season in Los Angeles, where the Kings’ offense has sputtered and the clubs sits at a pedestrian 13-12-4 record. But consider that the Kings hadn’t been to the playoffs for eight seasons before Murray took over and got Los Angeles into the postseason the last two seasons.Murray’s winning percentage with the Kings was .560.Overall, Murray was 139-106-30 with the Kings after taking over in 2008. The Kings won 46 games in each of the last two seasons, but also were ousted in the first round of the playoffs. Murray needed just one more win to 500 in his career, but Lombardi figured that milestone wasn’t going to come with the Kings anytime soon.
Are Bruce Boudreau and Paul Maurice any worse as coaches today than at this time last season or the season before?
So why were both dismissed Monday by the Washington Capitals and Carolina Hurricanes respectively?
The players had turned a deaf ear, something that happens to all coaches in all sports. And it’s something they all know is coming. It just becomes a matter of racing against time to get out on your own or face the axe. At the end of his first tenure with the New Jersey Devils, Jacques Lemaire realized this and resigned before it was necessary to fire him. Ditto in Minnesota. So coaches know when the message isn’t getting across.
Sidney Crosby has enjoyed better games, but none were more important than Monday’s 5-0 win over the New York Islanders.
Back in the lineup for the first time in 10 months, Crosby scored twice and assisted on two more goals in his first game back from a concussion suffered last season. No doubt it was a triumphant return. But now Crosby faces the daunting task of getting ready to do it again, remaining healthy and returning to the rarified air atop the hockey talent pool.
“I expect to be back there eventually,” Crosby told Sam Kasan of the team’s web site before the game. “I don’t know how long it’s going to take. I think the main thing is to get more and more comfortable each game. If I do that then I think I can get back there.”
But those issues will be addressed in the days to come. Monday night, Crosby, the Pens and their fans got to enjoy it all again.
Few comments, quips and quotes raise my eyebrows anymore. Perhaps my nonchalence stems from the 24-hour news cycle where we hear everyone’s take on everything just about all the time.
But comments from the Washington Capitals’ Brooks Laich to Chuck Gormley of CSNWashington really caught my attention. How about you?
“I really don’t care about that awareness crap,” Laich said. “To be honest, I’m sick of hearing all this talk about concussions and about the quiet room. This is what we love to do. Guys love to play, they love to compete, they want to be on the ice. How do you take that away from someone? We accept that there’s going to be dangers when we play this game. We know that every time we get dressed.
“I don’t know, sometimes it just feels like we’re being babysat a little too much. We’re grown men and we should have a say in what we want to do.”
Back in the day when working at NHL.com, we used to joke that Kris Draper would call the office each week just to see if we needed anything. That’s how cooperative Draper was in getting the word out on hockey. There was no ego involved. Draper wasn’t trying to blow his own horn, instead speading the gospel of hockey simply by being helpful and friendly.
My colleague, John McGourty called Draper the best defensive zone, penalty-killing center ever upon learning Draper, 40, was retiring.
“Draper was the first guy I would go to the dressing room after practices,” McGourty remembered. “He would always introduce his new teammates to me and start conversations with them. He signed a Team Canada jersey from the 2004 World Cup of Hockey tournament for me for charity.”
About Iced Coffey
Phil Coffey has covered the NHL since 1981, most recently as the Senior Editorial Director of NHL.com. He spent over 11 years there.