Kukla's Korner

Above the Glass

7 days is a long time to go without using a cliche

Now normally, I hate it when hockey players and coaches use vague soundbites to describe a particular situation, like “it’s just one of those things you can’t predict, we’ll have to take it day by day and hopefully I’ll be back soon.” Most of the time, I tune out. But when my very favorite honkin’ tall French Canadian Tampa Bay Lightning Captain who’s on the comeback trail uses one, I tend to listen. And learn. So why do some players get put on day to day status and others are moved to the injured reserve list? Because this is hockey and there’s a rule for everything.

The games: New Jersey Devils 2, Tampa Bay Lightning 1. Boston Bruins 2, Tampa Bay Lightning 1.

Coincidence or the David Steckel curse?: Tampa Bay Captain Vincent Lecavalier was injured while checking David Steckel during the Devils game. The team was without his services for the Boston game. They lose both games. By the same score. Coincidence? Maybe. Bad luck? Possibly. Or it could be that every player who runs into or gets run into by David Steckel goes down with an injury. Discuss.

The Oilers aren’t having much luck either: Taylor Hall incurred an ankle injury in his first NHL fight, but he did manage to rack up the Gordie Howe hat trick before leaving the ice, having scored a goal and an assist before that. Ales Hemsky is also toast with a shoulder injury. Speaking of which, I hear tell Edmonton asked for Ryan Johansen in return for Hemsky. That would have cause multiple injuries here in Portland, like heartburn, anxiety attacks and spikes in blood pressure. Now mind, I think it would be equally cool to watch Ryan line up against some of Edmonton’s young talent, but I like the idea of Nash-Johansen-Umberger even better.

Vague quotes are a synonym for we’d rather not put this guy on the shelf for 7 days or longer: The NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement stipulates that “A Club may place a Player on the Injured Reserve List only if such Player is reasonably expected to be injured, ill or disabled and unable to perform his duties as a hockey Player for a minimum of 7 days from the onset of such injury, illness or disability.  And therefore, “a Player placed on the Injured Reserve List will be ineligible to compete in NHL Games for a period of not less than 7 days from the date of the injury, illness or disability for which the Player was placed on the Injured Reserve List.

But if you think being out of shape and failing to show up for training camp ready to go is going to help you get out of your duties as a hockey Player, forget it: For any other Player who fails the Club’s initial physical examination in any League Year, or is injured, ill or disabled while not on the Club’s Active Roster, he shall not be eligible for, and may not be placed on, Injured Reserve, but instead shall be eligible to be, and may be designated as, Injured Non-Roster.

It’s a very exclusive club, this Injured Reserve: 16.11, Injured Reserve List, (e) Any determination that a Player is eligible to be placed on the Injured Reserve List, or designated as Injured Non-Roster, shall be made by the Club’s physician in accordance with the Club’s medical standards and documented by a verification signed by the Club physician and countersigned by a Club executive and by the Player in the form attached to this Agreement as Exhibit 28. Such form must be faxed to and received by Central Registry, and faxed to the NHLPA, all in accordance with Exhibit 3, prior to the Player being added to the Injured Reserve List.

Morals of the story:

The game: The Injured Reserve List makes it sound so much better than it is. A player’s not toast because he ripped knee parts that end in CL or he got winged in the head during a major Saturday game. He’s not out during major games or playoffs so as to hurt the team’s chances of winning crucial games. Oh no. According to this, he’s like a reserve wine list: it’s the special place only very exclusive players get to go after passing special inspection, so they may recover and their special talents may be reserved for special occasions like playoffs and All Star Games. It sounds good on paper, but I see now why teams are reluctant to move somebody from day-to-day to this seemingly hallowed status. Because you can’t bring the player back before the seven days are up, even if he’s ready. If you put him there, you have to keep him there. And if you’re a player who’s deemed as “Injured Non-Roster” why even show your face at the rink? Just hide in a closet with a keg, a Costco bag of Cheetos and don’t come out until your publicist figures out a comeback plan.

Life: If we had an Injured Reserve List in Corporate America, we’d either do no work at all or we’d never be allowed to stay home form work with illnesses, injuries and what not. There’s always a loophole in every rule, and there always seem to be those people who find and abuse it. And they always seem to be on the top floor in the corner office. Funny how that happens. Meanwhile, the peons get to be classified as Injured Non Roster, because even when you have a good medical excuse, your boss would still make you show up because that big fancy Ivy League school didn’t teach him or her how to push the big green button on the copy machine that turns it on. Therefore, I propose a revision of this clearly inequitable rule:

Injured Reserve List: Only those employees who are truly ill and injured may be placed on injured reserve, as demonstrated by a doctor’s examination and note of excuse, thereby freeing said individual of the schackles of their cube and paper clip fort collection and giving them ample time to recover properly and rethink their career track until said time as they feel like rejoining the rat race. Or not.

Injured Non Roster: Any employee who went to Harvard law school on a trust fund and has therefore figured out the loophole in this rule, and fakes illness, injury or disability for more than 5 days each month will be investigated immediately by the humble peons who make their coffee. If said individual is found to be faking yet another sick day to go home and rebuild their fantasy league and figure out new and better ways to climb the ladder by delegating and taking credit for other people’s work, they will be hereby be relegated to Injured Non Roster status without pay and subject to supplementary discipline. Supplementary discipline will consist of being made to work at Dairy Queen for $3 an hour for a minimum of four weeks until said employee learns to appreciate their good fortune and passes a stringent written exam that proves he or she has learned the lesson and will never again take advantage of other people or the company’s corporate employee handbook.

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About Above the Glass

Welcome to Above the Glass, a definitive anti-expert’s guide to hockey. I started blogging in 2009 as part of an effort to learn all 87 rules in the NHL Rulebook in 107 days before the 2010 Olympics, 30 years after I discovered the sport. You can peruse the archival results here. Growing up in Arizona, I didn’t even know hockey existed until February 22, 1980, when the USA played Russia in the Olympics. And just like that, the game of the century changed my life. I still don’t quite understand the icing rule or which faceoff circle goes with what offense, but I do know that every aspect of hockey has something to teach us about life. That’s what you’ll find here, along with my unadulterated passion for the game.

I live in Portland, Oregon, home of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. I invite anyone who wants to know more about hockey in the Rose City to visit here, where I blog exclusively about the Winterhawks. I’ll post an occasional musing about the Hawks, the WHL and junior hockey here as well.

Follow me on Twitter: @AbovetheGlass

Email: samantha@kuklaskorner.com