This ‘n That.
Sorry for the delayed blog, sometimes it’s hard to find the time to write anything worth reading. The temptation is to just fire off something, but really, why bother if it isn’t something worth your time to read, and mine to type out?
The Leaf game.
What a gutsy point by the Sens. Yes, even with the flu, the Sens should have beaten the SNAFU Leafs, but the fact they didn’t just fold the tent and write it off, after the first head swirling shift, is an accomplishment in itself. And look no further than Leclaire for why the team chose not to give up. I contend that had Leclaire not kept the Sens in the game, the team would have folded their tent. We’ve all been waiting for a goaltender to carry this team, and Saturday night we saw it. Leclaire was a difference maker, and nobody can deny it.
The question is, was that the Leclaire management can expect to show up more often than not, or was that a one off.
Leclaire has done it in the past, but it remains very true that he has not played enough games to be able to say he has it in him to be what he is projected to be. Even after 5 yrs in the NHL.
The injury report is longer than a Tolstoy novel, here are the lowlights
06/07 – 27 games (remainder of season) left knee surgery.
08/09 – 48 games (remainder of season) ankle surgery.
09/10 – 16 games, cheek bone surgery.
That’s basically 2 of 5 season lost to injury, and this doesn’t count time lost to miscellaneous injuries (neck, head, hamstring, virus). This guy is like Forest Gumps unlucky cousin. No matter where he goes, or what he does, injury finds him.
Is he a shinning talent, yet to find the opportunity to prove it, or is he a guy who can’t reach his potentially, yet to find the opportunity to prove it? Man, I wish I knew!
Next, head shots.
What never ceases to amaze me about the NHL is the lack of team insistence on players doing everything reasonable to mitigate the risk of injury. How is it a player can skate around with his helmet virtually undone? Seriously? I have to wear a seatbelt in my car, a helmet (done up) on a motorcycle, fall arrest on a roof, safety glasses at work, hearing protection, work boots, etc, etc. etc.
And few, if any of these employees, make near what an NHL player makes. Few, if any of them, are as integral to business success as an NHL player is to their team. Yet reasonable safety equipment, and its use, remains a touchy subject. Just plain stupid.
I’m not trying to blame the players for being injured, but come on, do up your chin strap, put on a neck guard, agree to soften the equipment (elbow and shoulder protection) and wear ankle protection/lace guards. I’ll be honest, if I owned an NHL team, every player, EVERY PLAYER, would have a “concussion” helmet, and it would be done up properly, or they wouldn’t dress. A winner, a real, do whatever it takes to win, winner would see the logic in this. All players would wear neck guards. My defensive Dmen would wear ankle and skate top protectors and high wristed gloves.
This is step one.
For the GM’s to be talking about rule changes, without first addressing equipment and it’s proper usage, is absurd. Absolutely absurd. In a contact sport, played on ice, with sticks, frozen rubber, and sharp blades, accidents will happen. Incidental head contact will happen. Falls, trips, slips, rebounds, deflections, high sticks etc, etc, etc, will happen. Rules are great, but their mere existence proves the existence of the action requiring the rule being in place. If a rule eliminated the action, than sure, go there first, but a rule only matters AFTER the action. Equipment is the universal protection that is there no matter if the act was done illegally or not, intentionally or not…it is step one.
Want to reduce injuries, make all players wear the appropriate equipment, properly, in conjunction with appropriate rule changes. But rule changes (especially nefarious ones), in isolation, are likely to have a very minor impact on actual injuries, but a huge impact on the flow and quality of the game.
I’m on record against intentional hits to the head, and am not in favour of un-necessary predatory hits (like the Cooke hit on Savard). But the league already has a rule for this, unsportsmanlike conduct. Use it when a player throws a marginally late hit from the blind side. Use it when a player consistently throws late hits during the course of a game (like often done by Kaleta, Neil, Clutterbuck, Ott or Cooke). Let marginally late hits by a specific player go once or twice, but when it becomes a habit, reign it in, control the game, as you’re supposed to do. The “checker”, a guy who does nothing other than run around throwing marginally late or dirty hits has replaced the enforcer. When the same player makes this same sort of hit repeatedly during a game, it’s not a mistake, or incidental, it’s a tactic. Penalize it as unsportsmanlike conduct, and have it cumulative, like the instigator, resulting in suspensions with repeated infractions.
But first and foremost, force the players to wear the right equipment. This means reduce the “hardness” of elbow and shoulder pads, make all players wear concussion helmets, and neck guards.