Big Lead Sports Bar

2/13/2008

Koz: Turning the Corner

Everything we hoped for weeks ago has happened, and then some. The Pens are in first place. Malkin is growing up before our eyes. Ryan Malone is developing into a legitimate power forward on pace for career highs in all categories. Who would have thought now would be the time when Therrien stopped shuffling lines and found some consistency?

You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and then you have...
Some of you were probably quick to boo Ty Conklin after his recent misplays with the puck that led to two goals. Many of you are also the same people who were ready to throw Fleury on the trading block while lauding Conklin's amazing stick handling ability. These things are bound to happen when the goalie is active outside the crease. That said, we can't be blaming the boards when things go wrong. At home, Conklin has to be aware of the nooks and crannies of a 40 year old arena and can't be caught off guard.

Conklin has been great, but it's good to hear Fleury will be making his rehab debut in WB/S on Wednesday. No word on whether or not he'll be wearing the bright white pads he's supposed to be transitioning into. The honeymoon with Conks might be coming to an end. He's playing well, but clearly not in the same zone he was in a few weeks ago. His positioning is becoming suspect at times and awkward rebounds are starting to appear.

Au revoir, jambière jaunes?


What's the deal with Crosby's wussy ankle ligaments? One game after Therrien called Ryan Whitney soft, he responded with two goals and was the #1 star against the Isles. At about the same time, Kris Letang criticized himself for not shooting enough, and went out and scored the game winning goal. I'm going on record here at Mondesi's House and calling out Sid's weak ankle ligaments. Maybe he'll wake up tomorrow morning miraculously healed. It's worth a shot, right?

And if that doesn't work, we've still got Geno: Malkin's recent success has been much ballyhooed (it only took me a month to work that word into a column) so I won't review the eye popping stats again. However, this recent success is clear evidence that when #87 returns, Malkin needs to center his own line.

Attention Relocated Pens Fans! For those of you not in the FSN viewing area without the Center Ice package, Wednesday's game against Boston is viewable online thanks to Yahoo! (exclamation point used to denote excitement in addition to faithfully representing a corporate entity).

Blood, Gore, and Hockey in America: By now you've probably seen the gruesome video of Richard Zednik's throat being slashed by an errant skate blade. The reason you've seen it is because American news networks are all over it. Like the Bertuzzi punch and the McSorley slash before it, the Zednik injury has been widely shown. I won't argue against showing it. It's news. Thankfully Zednik has been upgraded to "good" condition and should make a full recovery.

My problem with this scenario is the uninformed reaction that will follow. Knee-jerk responses like throat guards and "ooooh hockey is so violent and barbaric!" Why do we only see negative news stories about hockey? All things considered, it's the only mainstream sport with an unblemished reputation. Consider this:
Baseball = steroids, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Jason Grimsley, John Rocker, Miguel Tejada...
Football = cheating video tapes, the Cincinnati Bengals, Michael Vick, and Pacman Jones
Basketball = referees on the take, Stephen Jackson and the Indiana Pacers circa 2005

The NHL has no serious steroids allegations nor have the integrity of its games been questioned. Attendance is up. If more people had Versus, perhaps TV viewing would be better too. Now is a crucial time for the game to gain some footing.

Hockey YouTube of the Week: Maybe it's a bit hypocritical of me to sensationalize the Zednik injury, but in case you aren't familiar, this has happened before. Nearly 20 years ago, Clint Malarchuk, Sabres goalie, needed 300 stitches to repair a sliced jugular vein. If you're brave enough, the video is below. Also, Malarchuk was naturally asked about the episode and has talked about reaching out to Zednik to offer advice and assistance when he is ready.



Anyone who had seen this before immediately thought of this when they saw what happened to Zednik.

NHL Suggestion of the Week: As I previously mentioned, we're likely to see a call for throat guards in the wake of this near fatal accident. That's overreacting. If the league isn't going to mandate visors, we might as well not even get into this. Leave it up to the individual player to make the call if they want, but don't waste your breath demanding a league-wide mandate.

3 comments:

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

They should just suggest players wear the throat guard, and if they want to fine, but if not that's fine too. Kind of like with the visors. Remember, there was a time in the NHL when fucking HELMETS were optional.

Time for a rant:

Although hockey was also 4th in American sports in popularity (and not as far behind the NBA as ESPN would have you think) prior to 2004, you NEVER heard ESPN bash the sport repeatedly until their contract with the NHL was almost up at the end of the 2004 season. Since then, and especially since the NHL is on a new network, it's never discussed as a regular sport anymore. ANY mention of it comes with a jab about its supposed lack of popularity.

It's a sickening display of coprorate greed and media control if you ask me.

Sidney Crosby got more votes from the fans in their lame-ass "Who's Now?" poll last year, but the panel members on the show voted him down. You think they do that if the NHL is still on their network? You think every mention of the NHL isn't prefaced with a jab at the league's popularity or a backhanded compliment if they're still broadcasting the games on ESPN?

Check the attendance figures, merch sales, etc. If you do that, and look at the ratings for the game when it was still on ESPN, you'll find that the NHL isn't even close to as far behind the NBA as ESPN would have you believe.

And another thing, the NHL is more popular than NASCAR. NASCAR races get high ratings because there's ONE race per week and every NASCAR fan on the planet is watching that one race.

What they're doing is almost criminal. By having the leading sports news source put down and degrade the game repeatedly, they can hopefully drive the NHL to go back to ESPN for a very small price, and THEN they'll try to build the league up again.

It sucks, but I honestly think it's probably the only way that the NHL is going to get better publicity in this country.

Koz said...

Details on Fleury's first game on the rehab assignment

Readers Digest version: 3-1 win, 30 saves, white pads

macedog said...

Koz-
You wrote:
"Why do we only see negative news stories about hockey? All things considered, it's the only mainstream sport with an unblemished reputation."

You're overall argument is a bit of a catch-22. You're right, it's biggest sport in America with an otherwise unblemished reputation, but that's not for a lack of immorality. The reason that it remains so is because the NHL does not have an ESPN contract (which is a separate argument). So what I mean to say is that if a station (like ESPN) could capitalize from off-ice stories within the NHL like Rick Tochett's gambling, it would. Could you imagine if an NFL assisstant coach was caught in a million dollar + gambling ring that involved the wife of the team's head coach that also happens to be the greatest quarterback ever?
Hockey does not lack men with integrity, but that's not to say all the men in the sport are any better than those athletes in the other major sports, it just isn't profitable for anybody to talk more about these stories.

Plus a lot of hockey players are Russian and I still don't trust them. DTA 3:16.

-Mace