While the 2012 NHL Lockout is underway, every Friday will be known as “Flashback Friday.” On this day of the week, a classic installment of PUCK YOU! will be released for your enjoyment.
Hello hockey fans! We started this project last season on a different website. We have a new home here at Wonderpod-Online, and couldn’t be happier to getting back to discussing a game we all mutually love… hockey. The one played on ice, that is. The NHL season is just over the halfway mark, the World Juniors is over, and we’re on the doorstep of the free-agency deadline. It’s about time we got the crew back together for another bull-session. So, let’s get to it, shall we?
Our panelists include Bruce McGee, Al Creed, ThinkSoJoE, G, and Armchair MVP.
I’m sure these two guys would have been inclined to shake each other’s hands at the end of the game.
Question 1: Did you catch the Winter Classic match between the Penguins and the Capitals on January 1st ? Any thoughts?
Also, there has been some backlash towards the Peguins and Crosby in lieu of the fact that there was no handshake between the teams following the game. While this is a regular season game, which did not feature a handshake post-match, some argue that the event is special and warrants recognition by teams involved. What do you think?
Bruce McGee: No I was unable to catch the classic on TV, but saw a lot of the replays and highlights online. I think the no hand shake thing is kind of dick move honestly. The winter classic is like a playoff game and both teams should of been sportsman like about it. I understand there is this rivalry between the pens and the caps, but seriously not worth being an ass over. Granted this is the Pittsburgh Penguins were talking about.
G: I did plan on watching the outdoor game in entirety. Unfortunately, the game was delayed because of bad weather, and rescheduled to later in the evening. As a result, I had to go to work and only managed to catch most of the third period. I was pretty amused that a hockey game was delayed because of rain, seriously, how often has that happened! But as always, just the visuals of an outdoor arena are enticing to this hockey fan. Too bad the ice was complete garbage.
I have two things to say about the so-called handshake snub by the Penguins.
It should be noted that shortly after this game, it was revealed that Crosby was likely concussed in this game. As a result, I suppose one could make a case that he wasn’t thinking clearly… if it’s even an issue, AND does this dismiss the rest of the Penguins? Some people liken this snub to Crosby’s failure to shake the hands of the losing Detroit Redwings at the end of the 2009 Stanley Cup finals. I questioned Crosby in that particular situation, sure. However when it comes to the Winter Classic, I do not.
The Winter Classic was not an exhibition game. Nor, was it the conclusion of a playoff series where it is traditional to shake hands with the opposing team. In the NHL, it is only at this time where there is an expectation for this social etiquette. The Winter Classic is considered a regular season game, that happens to be played outdoors. In that regard, it is no different from regular season games played in Europe at the start of the season. Sure, it’s a different arrangement than the normal game, but it is worth the same amount of points as any other game. There are no titles, trophies, or banners on the line. I think it is a double standard to expect players to shake hands or assume that they would inherently perceive the game as “special” as a result.
Armchair MVP: I don’t really think the handshake to end the Winter Classic is necessary. The only time a handshake generally takes place is after the final game of a playoff series, also known as when one team is congratulated for making it as far as they did in the playoffs, and the other for moving on. In the grand scheme of things, the Winter Classic is just another regular season game, with a little bit more significance due only to being played outside. I don’t mind when the players treat it as such.
Al Creed: Honestly, this year’s Winter Classic was pretty crappy. I mean, putting it on in Prime Time was a GREAT idea, but the rest sucked. The two SUPERSTARS, Crosby and Blow-Vetchkin did nothing, and that was the main selling point of the game, wasn’t it? That Crosby and Blow-Vetchkin would have a Goal-a-palooza? And I LOVE how the Face of the NHL, Mr. Role-Model himself, Sidney Crosby, was caught on camera deliberately refusing to take part in any post-game handshake and leading his team off of the ice. Mike Richards should be the face of the League; at least the dude has dignity!
ThinkSoJoE: I indeed caught the Winter Classic and promptly fell asleep. Well, during the first intermission, anyway. It may be the Buffalo boy in me but I don’t think any of the Winter Classics thusfar have held up to the initial one at the Ralph. When I think outdoor hockey in the middle of winter, I think snow, not rain.
As far as the handshake, I say, you didn’t eliminate them from the playoffs, you’ll see them again later on this year, so what’s the point? It’s a normal game despite being a spectacle.
Mike Green and Ilya Kovalchuk dropped the gloves on October 9, 2010. Who knew that at the start of the season two guys paid millions of dollars to score would be setting a tone for a lackluster season in points totals respectively? Too bad I couldn’t find an animated gif of Ovechkin and Brodeur scrapping it out! However, Ovechkin did get to take a penalty shot on Brodeur in that same game:
Very few high fives by Ovie across the bench this season… And Martin probably gets sick to his stomach when he hears the words, “bench.” Let’s get to the question, shall we?
Question 2: In the Eastern Conference, we are seeing solid play out of the Washington Capitals and abysmal play out of the New Jersey Devils. The one thing the two teams have in common, is that each are home to two all-star players that are underperforming. Which of the following players slumping play are you the most surprised about, and why? Alexander Ovechkin, Martin Brodeur, Ilya Kovalchuk or Mike Green.
ThinkSoJoE: I am NOT surprised about Brodeur. Marty is one of the all-time greats, we all know that. But the man can’t go on forever.
I am NOT surprised about Kovalchuk. When your contract is so big that it causes the team to have to play with a short bench, it hurts you just as bad as it does the team, because you don’t necessarily have great line mates to feed you the puck, or for you to feed the puck to.
Alex Ovechkin is consistently one of the top goal scorers in the National Hockey League, so that one surprises me. He’ll bounce back though, he’s tough.
Armchair MVP: I’m going to tackle this one using the process of elimination. Marty Brodeur is 38 years old, no matter how polished your career is, it can’t last forever. As a Flames fan, this isn’t the first time I’ve seen a somewhat one-dimensional defenseman fall from grace (Dion Phaneuf), so Mike Green is out of contention for me. Which leaves us with Ovechkin and Kovalchuk. Ovechkin is currently on pace for 82 points this season, which is a career year for 95% of NHL players, maybe more. I get that he has higher expectations, but his bad season is a crowning achievement for most players. That, and his ridiculous free agent contract, is why I have to go with Ilya Kovalchuk.
Bruce McGee: Ovechkin is a slight surprise in he is usually fast out of the gate. Brodeur is getting old and it may be time for him to just hang up his skates. No shame in it, he is more than likely a first ballot hall of famer and has his cup and numerous personal awards to be proud of. I am not that familiar with Mike Green so I can not say much on him. It comes down to Ilya Kovalchuk and he is my biggest personal surprise. I mean come on man you just signed a deal worth enough cash to fill a swimming pool. I know overall the devils aren’t that good, but it shouldn’t stop him from performing. It should be interesting to see how he does come the second half. Especially after they traded Langenbrunner.
Al Creed: Actually, it’s Mike Green. Despite being on the Capitals, he’s a great defensemen with a long career ahead of him. Marty Brodeur’s age has FINALLY caught up with him, Blow-Vetchkin, I have always argued, is the most overrated player in the league, and Ilya Kovalchuk is your typical Russian player; demand a big-ass contract with the promise of delivering wins and goals, and then hot-dog it.
G:There is no doubt that these four players have seen better days. Brodeur has the best excuse, in all reality, in that he came into this season as a player balancing on the edge of a career that inevitably must end sooner than later. Although one could make a case for the poor play of the New Jersey Devils this season. Kovalchuk is overpaid and in a defense-first system. Ovechkin is having an off-season, I’m a little surprised by his production totals, but of the four listed… he’s the most likely to bounce back before the season is up.
Mike Green, on the other hand, is quite a surprise. He hasn’t seemed to be the aggressive offensive defenceman who has averaged over 70 points a season for the last two. He’s not susceptible to age here, and is still playing in a system that favors his style of play. While collectively the Capitals are not as effective as they have been in the past, there was little change in the lineup that would explain Green’s slump. While he is on pace for over forty points this season, and for a defenseman that would normally be considered great. For a normal defenseman…
Much has changed in the NHL Allstar game over the years… and with change in traditions, there is always controversy. Like in 1992 where Eric Lindros refused to play for the Quebec Nordiques, hence forgoing his NHL season and having the chance to participate in this depicted event.
Question 3: As of January 4, 2011, the starting line ups for the All Star game on January 28th. There were more than 14.3 million votes casted for players, which was done online, and it was possible for people to vote more than once. In the 2008 – 2009 season, Montreal fans were blatantly “stuffing the ballot box” in an attempt to dominate the Eastern line up with Habs. While the All Star games rules have been altered to a draft system this year, the issue of skewed democracy remains. The alternative, to return to the old system where the league representatives select players would remedy this problem, however, it would also detract from the interactive experience fans currently have for a game that means nothing other than to celebrate the sport. Where do you stand on this as of today, keeping in mind that according to fan votes the following six players are bona fide all stars based on this season’s play:
Pittsburgh: Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Marc-Andre Fleury
Chicago: Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith
Armchair MVP: Disclaimer: I have no idea how this system would actually work, and I’m sure a lot of people will disagree with me. I don’t like the rule that all 30 NHL teams must be represented (Patrik Elias is in the game solely because he is a Devil, etc.), but it doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. So here’s my alternative: have the fans vote on the representative for each NHL team (ie: fans can only vote for one player per NHL team). Out of the 30 winners, take the top 3 forwards, top 2 defensemen, and top goalie in votes, and name those 6 players as the All-Star game starters. The NHL reps could then decide who else makes the All-Star game, giving them a significant role in the choice, while preserving the fans’ role, hopefully combating the ballot stuffing practice, and hopefully avoiding any future “Vote for Rory” fiascos.
G: I don’t like the multiple vote system that is in place. This is a glaring flaw in the current setup, one that more or less ruins the point of a democratic poll of fans. If this were to be addressed, there is no way of knowing whether the results would have been the same, but I wouldn’t be shocked if it were different. Obviously the culture of online media is dominated by youth, and two teams that are heavy favorites amongst that demographic are the Penguins and the Blackhawks. However, looking at the results, only Crosby and Toews stand out as clear-cut all stars. It is not that the other players who made the cut could not potentially make the game too, but they are more on the bubble amongst many other candidates. One could make a case for Malkin and Keith likely making the team regardless, but I’m not convinced about Letang or Fleury.
Al Creed: I HATE the last few times the NHL has picked starting line-ups for the All-Star Game. Allowing fans to vote more than once leads to over-representation of some teams (by the looks of it, Pittsburgh and Chicago…), and it’s total bullshit. Seriously, Marc-Andre Fleury is good, but he’s not All-Star Starter-good. And yet, the alternative is no better. I think that they should limit ballot submissions to one per fan, so that a more accurate tally and better representation can be achieved.
ThinkSoJoE: I grew up around Habs fans, so I know the loyalty they have for their team. They’re also a team with some bright young players and the Eastern Conference would benefit from having some of them. However, a “skewed democracy,” as you put it, is not fair to the players from other teams. In fact, I believe there were three teams with no representation whatsoever.
The problem you get into is that there is virtually no sure-fire way to limit the number of votes any certain person gets. It’s easy to work your way around cookies and other preventative measures, and even requiring an e-mail address wouldn’t work because many people have multiple e-mail addresses – myself included. A text messaging system could be the solution, however some regional carriers may not allow voting from their system (part of the reason I switched to Sprint last year), so that’s not ideal either.
There’s really no solution that I can come up with that allows fans to interact, have the players they voted on in the game based on votes, and is fair to everybody. Maybe that’s something for us to work on.
Bruce McGee: The format is fine, it’s the ballot box stuffing that pisses me off. As one Al Creed and I talked about yesterday in chat, the Flyers and the Wings have exactly one player each going. That is rookies, goalies, players the whole deal. I had no idea 40 some odd points in 40 some odd games were bad numbers for someone like Henrik Zetterberg. Let me also through the name Mike Richards out there as someone who got lost in the ballot stuffing. Its like all things involving voting, people can’t be trusted to be fair about it. My only change would be one vote per IP address or something like that. I will watch the skills comp and not the game.
“Last Chance To Rant”
Note: We often include this section as an open place to discuss anything of relation to hockey, from the NHL to the KHL, from the World Juniors to Olympic action… In this particular edition, it was neglected to be included, however, ThinkSoJoE submitted the following excellent statement that we felt needed to be included in this edition of PUCK YOU!
ThinkSoJoE: The first thing Terry Pegula needs to do if he buys the Buffalo Sabres is to get rid of Darcy Regier as the GM. The Sabres are a team that just a few short years ago were one game away from the Stanley Cup Finals. By time the next season started, Daniel Briere and Chris Drury, integral parts of that run, were gone. This is our luck in Buffalo. We’re blessed to have great players – Tyler Myers, Tyler Ennis – but they all wind up elsewhere because management doesn’t do enough to keep them around – Maxim Afinogenov, Brian Campbell. Yet a streaky player like Thomas Vanek is tethered to the team for a multi-million dollar seven year deal. Trade deadline deals are usually bust in this town – Raffi Torres? Really? – and quite frankly, we’re sick of it. With solid goaltending from Ryan Miller (who is also having an off year), this team has the potential to be unstoppable with the right guys on the ice. This is not a knock on guys like Scott Neidermayer, Jordan Leopold, or Shaone Morrisonn. It’s not a knock on Tim Connolly, Jochen Hecht, or Jason Pominville. It’s not that any of the guys on the Sabre roster are bad players, it’s that the team is having trouble finding the right chemistry. Maybe a change in management can help.
As a side note to that rant, I’d love to see Lindy Ruff stay on as head coach for many, many more years to come.
“Drop the Gloves”
On January 14, 2011, North Dakota Fighting Sioux and the Gophers faced off. In the second period, two interesting things happened. In the dying seconds of the second period, The Sioux’s forward Brad Malone just lays out Minnesota Gopher defenseman Kevin Wehrs at the 10 second mark of the video below. Wow. This in turn leads to a bench clearing brawl amongst both teams, a sight to be seen indeed.
The Gophers won this game 3-2.
Here at Wonderpod Online, we encourage discussion and celebrate debate. The internet can be stifling for some, but we prefer to open our doors to authors and writers from elsewhere to come on board in our panels and discuss passions that might not be represented at their other homes. With that being said, we hope hockey fans are enjoying the regular season up to this point in time.
Hockey fans! We want to hear from you. The point of this panel is to allow fans to chime in, not the professionals. You pay their salaries, so tell them what YOU think below in the comments section.
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Oh… and one more thing:
Some of our panelists write elsewhere on the internet, and we’d like you to check out some of their websites!
Bored Wrestling Fan
A break down of various professional wrestling programs and events from the eyes of the smarky fan
The Cultural Revolution (TCR Comix)
Al Creed’s comics dominate tongue and cheek humour here
A weekly podcast about the world of video games, from player experiences to current events in the industry, Bruce McGee, Pat Man, and Gun Sage provide insight into the medium for any gamer (whether casual or “pro”).