Fighting in Hockey
Uggggh…am I right? Who even wants to debate it anymore, I know. Well, I’m sure this argument will definitively end the conversation for good, and we can all go home.
It seems to me like the conversation can be handily compartmentalized thusly:
1) The ethical question of whether or not we should allow the possibility of serious injury because the person is engaged in something we may enjoy. This is a massive question that extends well beyond fighting in hockey to include pretty much everything we enjoy as a crass, materialistic society. Who cares if thousands die in car accidents every year, I hate the bus! Once again, with feeling: people enjoy fighting enough not to care if someone is hurt doing it. It seems to me like this debate is totally pointless, even if that makes me a defeatist and a shill. Whatever; we’re all culpable. You’re not going to solve it without also solving the mystery of why it’s so hard for people to be empathetic. And sports, as we all know, isn’t about empathy. It’s about Leafs suck.
2) Whether or not fighting actually detracts from the ability to enjoy a good hockey game. Ah, now here’s something we might actually talk about. Just as the shootout is viewed as a gimmicky aberration detracting from the purity of a well-contested, TEAM-based exploit, I have to ask how two ‘specialists’ dropping gloves to stop the course of play isn’t also gimmicky. We also debate hybrid icing, and the coach’s challenge, and all manner of other reforms because of the incremental way they may slow down the game. In the case of that Toronto-Montreal game where Parros was hurt, the game was wide open and all sorts of fun to watch because it was two fast and relatively skilled teams playing an uptempo possession game with lots of scoring chances. The game stopped about a half-dozen times for fights, and then for a solid ten minutes when Parros had to be stretchered off. When play resumed, it was halting, tentative, and less exciting. I don’t blame the players. They just cooled down for an extended period of time, and watched a fellow player become seriously injured. It’s not easy to get the adrenaline flowing again after that. Bottom line: is seeing a bunch of terrible fights, where they grapple each other’s jersey, miss each other’s heads a bunch of time, and then fall over, really worth interrupting the game so much? Is what I just described really that much fun to watch?
It’s impossible to understand how the same fighting apologists can talk about the shootout like it’s a sin against nature.
Bit of a weird one here, innit? Remember, though, that Karlsson–he who can do no wrong–was also demoted in his rookie season. Karlsson was upset at the time–apparently weeping in Murray’s office–but it turned out pretty well. He was back the same season, and went on to be the Karlsson we know and love and name blogs after. Teaching the organization’s most prized young player a valuable lesson about not taking anything for granted is worth not having him in the lineup for a month or two.
Not to mention that Ottawa has a number of prospects who have been in the system long enough that if they don’t crack the lineup this year, their future in the organization is in doubt. Murray made the pointy in an interview that if you set goals for young people, and they meet them, and you don’t reward them for that, then you lose credibility. Da Costa did what he was asked to in the off season, and now he’s getting his chance. You have to give those guys a close look, because you know Zibanejad will be a part of the team for a long time to come. Plus, if it ends up saving a year on his ELC, all the better (not sure how that works though, what with him already having used a year up).
My twoonie is on Z-Bad being back in the lineup by mid-season. Nothing motivates a player more than having to ride the bus and then asking if they want back on the chartered plane.
That Kessel Contract
Toronto has to feel good about only having to sign Kessel for eight years. Sure, $8 million per is steep, but under the old CBA you could be sure they’d have to sign him well past his 34th year, which is what his new deal will take him to. If you make that a 12-14 year deal, with a long tail of ‘possibly retired’ years, you risk having to pay that player well out of his prime. As it stands, it’s a reasonable assumption that Kessel will still be productive at that age. For those who laughed at how much money Toronto tied up in one player, I can only admit that there isn’t really another player like that in Toronto’s lineup, or readily available anywhere else, and even if they overpaid it was only by maybe $1 million a year or so. In Toronto-bux, that’s nothing.
What it means for us, and the6thsens guys pointed this out already, is that Ottawa is well and truly fucked in two seasons time when Spezza and Ryan both need new contracts. (And also MacArthur and Methot and Condra and Anderson. No biggie. Just three top six forwards, a top two D, and your starting goaltender.) Last year, the St. Louis Blues spent less than anyone else in the league on salary; this year, after having signed all of their good young players (and trading Perron to make room), they’re 14th in the league in salary. (And are among six teams with less than $1 million in cap space.) With Eugene Melnyk making (yet more) noise about how much money the organization loses, and claiming to already be over budget, you can’t think that he’s up for a jump of that kind.
Obviously a lot can happen between now and then–will we even want to re-sign those two players, for one thing–but it can’t help but be concerning. Let’s enjoy this window while we can, Sens buddies.
Two interesting stories over on Senators Extra: How Clarkson almost ended up a Senator, and MacArthur ripping into his former coach, Randy Carlye.
Hard to imagine that if Ottawa had ended up with Clarkson that they’d have pulled off the Bobby Ryan trade. Toronto has been ripped a lot for favoring the lunchpail Clarkson so much they bought out the skilled Grabovski to make it happen, but sometimes we forget that Murray can be plenty old school in his thinking too. Especially interesting in light of the work Tyler Dellow is doing over on MC79 about how good the Devils’ possession was last year, and how Clarkson was the prime beneficiary in a contract year.
There but for the grace of god go I? Ottawa might still have Silfverberg, Noesen and their first rounder, along with a boat anchor contract and an aging power forward.
As for the MacArthur / Carlyle story…I don’t know what to say other than between Carlyle, Phaneuf and Kessel, Toronto has what must be one of the most unlikeable teams in the league.
Hey, the Sens actually played! The weirdest, wonkiest opening week continues with the Senators not playing until Wednesday after having to wait a week to open their season…with back-to-back games on the road.
Observations? Nothing too specific to the Sens. Like a lot of teams, their early kinks are on embarrassing display. Lots of loosy-goosy passing plays that result in turnovers, scrambles, and three-or-two-on-ones. In other words: lots of fun to watch.
And speaking of fun, the MacArthur-Turris-Conacher line looks like it will be a ton of fun to watch all year. Turris is getting really creative out there, MacArthur is clearly a veteran in the way he can read and dictate the play, and Conacher is a royal pain in the ass. While Spezza looks dangerous and I’m so glad to have him back, that deal for Turris sometimes looks like absolute brilliance on Murray’s part.
— That’s it for now. Have a good Monday, everybody. Mark all those emails unread and go get yourself another coffee.