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Tasca's Take

The Early Days

Now that we’re a few days into the season, it’s time for a few quick observations.

1) Even though pro hockey is more defensive than its ever been, there are some match-ups that offer up incredible entertainment almost without exception.  Tampa Bay/Washington is one of those match-ups.

Anyone who watched Monday night’s tilt between these two clubs enjoyed 65 minutes of terrific hockey.  It was a see-saw affair that featured great skating and a bit of sandpaper, as well.  The only bad part about the game is that it was decided in a shootout. 

2) Does anyone really watch Brendan Shanahan’s supplementary discipline videos?  I understand they’ve received rave reviews thus far, but who in God’s name wants to sit and watch Shanny take two minutes to explain why a player warrants banishment?  I suppose a simple press release doesn’t cut the cheese.

It’s not surprising to see Shanahan under fire for some of his lengthy suspensions.  It’s gotten to the point where some general managers have actually filed complaints with Gary Bettman.  Anyone want to bet that Brian Burke is among them?

3) If you’re a Canadiens fan, the latest injury to Andrei Markov has got to make your stomach turn.

Many Montreal fans were calling for the team to turn the Russian defenseman loose in the off-season.  After Markov underwent reconstructive knee surgery in back-to-back-years, while missing 132 games during that time, it was clear that the team was taking a huge gamble by re-signing him to a three-year, $17 million-dollar contract. 

Say what you want about the six-year, $33-million dollar deal given to James Wisniewski by Columbus, but in my mind, the Canadiens would’ve been much better off retaining his services.  Wisniewski scored 51 points last season, is a physical force on defense, and at age 27, he’s just entering his prime.  On top of that, his knees aren’t shot.  That’s a big plus.

Sadly, Andrei Markov’s best days are behind him.  He’ll never be the blueline stalwart he once was, and only a drunkard would suggest he’ll ever again play a full 82-game slate.  I’d be shocked if he puts in 50 games a year.

Pierre Gauthier screwed up.  Big time. 

4) A lot of people think Don Cherry is senile at worst and a showman at best.  Regardless of where you stand, he says what a lot of people think, but are afraid to say themselves.  He’s the Johnny Miller of pro hockey. 

Controversial figures always stir the pot, and by doing so, they piss people off.

With that said, I don’t think Don was trying to offend anyone or ham it up during his infamous rant on the lack of hitting during the Leafs/Senators game last week.  Like a lot of us, he’s concerned about the state of the game.  Granted, he’s not the most articulate man in the world, and there’s no doubt his emotions got the best of him during his segment.  But that doesn’t make him a fool. 

Don Cherry is the product of a bygone era.  He was a very tough hockey player during a time when intimidation was the name of the game.  Those days are gone, and it’s obvious that Cherry is scared.  He’s worried that pro hockey is going to soon turn into figure skating on ice.

As ridiculous a notion as it might be, let’s not chastise Cherry too vehemently.  He’s not the only one who longs for the days when Scott Stevens would routinely lay out opposing forwards at the blueline.  And while what Cherry said about his perceived lack of hitting is certainly not fashionable these days, I do believe his comments are reflective of the silent, albeit slim, majority.


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About Tasca's Take

Tasca's Take is written by Joe Tasca. Born and raised in Westerly, Rhode Island, Joe works as a broadcaster for seven radio stations in southern New England. Whether that's a testament to his on-air ability or because he has a desparate need for money is debatable.

Joe spends his summers playing golf, enjoying the beauty of Misquamicut Beach, and wining and dining girls who are easily awed by the mere presence of a radio personality. During the winter months, he can usually be found taking in a hockey game somewhere in North America. In the spring, he spends much of his time in botanical gardens tiptoeing through the tulips, while autumn is a time to frolic with his golden retrievers through piles of his neighbors’ leaves.