Puckhead Forum is a weekend feature that spotlights the rants, raves and stunning insight from the Puck Daddy readership. If you have some story to tell or something on which to opine, or just want to explain reason No. 71,522 why the NHL needs to change its current overtime format, hit us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks again for reading and participating.
Earlier this week, the Columbus Blue Jackets set off a war of words in the media after recalling blue-chip rookie Nikita Filatov from the AHL Syracuse Crunch, who are desperately battling in a playoff race.
The issue was that the Blue Jackets were candid about the possibility that Filatov might not even play after his call-up; that he was along for the ride for experience. Meanwhile, Syracuse would be missing one of its best offensive players while he learns through osmosis.
The two organizations appear to have hugged it out, but the bad blood lingers. Our first Puckhead Forum author of the day is a Syracuse native and a Crunch fan with a very distinctive take on the controversy. That, plus talk about the Philadelphia Flyers before the playoffs and a sweet bit of nostalgia about a cop who worked an interesting beat: The Detroit Red Wings penalty box.
First, from Puck Daddy reader Brian Nicholas, comes this take on Jackets/Crunch/Filatov:
Senor Puck Daddy,
I've lived in Syracuse, not its suburbs, my entire life and have been following the Crunch through the many trials that a minor league team faces. I have to say that I find it funny how so many people here in Syracuse are so outraged by Nikita getting recalled.
It goes unsaid that the guy would help the team with the playoff rush here but I can see the BJ's point. The atmosphere over there has to be awesome. Their attendance is up so even if he doesn't play it should be a good experience for him. Don't let the band wagon fans fool you here.
Right now the playoff race between the Crunch and Marlies couldn't be closer. I was at a game against the Marlies on a Wednesday night a few weeks back and the attendance was about 3,000 people (half capacity) and the atmosphere was dead. I love all these people that all of sudden know the Crunch and hockey. That's not my only point though. If you read more or Kramer's blogs or even the Crunch forum on Syracuse.com, check out what people say about Head Coach Ross Yates and Assistant Trent Cull. They're screaming for these two guys to get fired. So the argument here is let your star play for and practice under our bum coach. It's ridiculous.
Even if Nikita doesn't make it into a game up there, which I'm certain he will as he scored a hat trick in the NHL with 9:59 of ice time, I'm certain he will benefit from the practices, taking on defenseman like Commodore than guy's who until recent trades were playing in the ECHL. I'm sure he'll benefit by strength training and also learning to play defense. The guy is just a cherry-picker and I would say our biggest liability on defense so let him improve that aspect of his game up in the NHL, away from what 99% of the fans in Syracuse are calling a terrible coach.
Finally, the Crunch has five games left, three of which are against the Rochester Americans. I hate the Amerks, so my opinion is biased, but our star enforcer, Jon Mirasty, is done for the year and contrary to what most people think around here we don't have anyone else that is close to a good fighter. Not Kevin Harvey and definitely not Tom Suckstito. It would be terrible to see one of the scumbags from the Amerks try to take liberties on Nikita because frankly, nobody on the team in my opinion is that much of a threat.
A similar situation came up last weekend when the Crunch played the Rampage. Mirasty was scratched and Francis Lessard (most PIM in the AHL) took a nice shot on one of our best players Derek MacKenzie. Mike York, with his early 1990's punk rock hair, tried to get frisky but he's Mike York, a big non-fighter. Other than that, nobody did a thing. If you think my opinion about the games against Rochester getting ugly is wrong, look where they are in the standings and check out on YouTube some of our rich history with those scumbags, including the last game between the two at the end of last years regular season when they went after Gilbert Brule.
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The following rant is from "full-time reader and part-time commenter Munkcy," who penned it before the Flyers' wild 8-5 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday night (and before the New Jersey Devils poked their heads above the water to take a breath against the Tampa Bay Lightning). But the general thoughts about the state of the Bullies may still apply.
I really want to enjoy the Devils end-of-the-season crisis, but as a Flyers fan, we seem to be having one of our own. Just two weekends ago they seemed to have the 4th seed easily locked up with eyes on challenging for the division. In a four day span they beat the Sabres, Penguins and Devils -- arguably the best three game stretch of the season for the Flyers.
Fast-forward to four games later and the team is in a funk. They went 1-3 against the Panthers, Islanders, Bruins and Leafs -- with that one win coming against the NHL-worst Islanders in a shootout.
In my desperate attempt to find a cause for what ails this team, I turned my attention to February 27th. What happened on February 27th you ask? That was the day the Flyers started to make room under the cap for the return of Danny Briere. They lost Ossi Vaananen and Glen Metropolit to waivers. A week later they would trade Scotty Upshall for Daniel Carcillo - a trade the Phoenix Coyotes won by at least three front teeth.
Could three players have this much of an impact on the team? Specifically, how could a 3rd line winger, 4th line center and 7th defenseman have this much of an impact? Arguments can go both ways, but it's hard to deny the results.
Prior to February 27th the Flyers were 33-17-9 and were 5-1 in their last six games. In the five weeks since then they are just 8-8-1.
Prior to February 27th, the Flyers had scored 192 goals, good for roughly 3.25 per game, and had given up 166, a 2.81 per game rate. Since then, they've scored 48 -- a 2.82 rate -- and given up 49 -- a 2.88 rate. The defense had slightly worse stats, but it could have been a lot worse had Martin Biron not had the best month of his season during that stretch. The offense, on the other hand, dropped significantly.
How could three depth and role players have this much impact? Looking back on it, how could they NOT have a huge impact? Hockey relies on the depth/role players perhaps the most out of the big four major team sports in North America. The road to the Cup is littered with teams that just didn't have enough depth or good enough role players.
The Flyers will make the playoffs. Whether they snap out of this funk and make it with some confidence or whether they continue to stumble like a drunken teenager trying to sneak back into their house without waking their parents remains to be seen.
One thing is for certain, however. And that's the fact that over the next week and a half Flyers fans everywhere will be asking themselves a lot of questions that you don't want to be asking this close to the playoffs: Did Biron use up his "hot month" already? Can Carcillo be demoted lower than the fourth line? If a defenseman gets hurt, is there a person in the world that thinks Danny Syvret is a good replacement (Danny Syvret's parents don't even think that)?
In six games we'll get a chance to find out those answers.
My final thought: in the eyes of this Flyers fan at least, a fourth line of Carcillo-Powe-Nodl isn't exactly as confidence inspiring as a fourth line of Kapanen-Dowd-Thoresen.
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Finally, here's an example of something we'd love to see more of in our inbox: Wonderful little tales of hockey lore. Especially when they're as heartwarming as this.
From PD reader Kathleen Wood:
In the 1940's at the Red Wings games in Olympia, there was no protection from the fans for players in the penalty box . The box was just a board for four players to sit on. So, for a very brief time in Detroit, uniformed precinct police officers were assigned to sit in the penalty box during games.
There weren't too many officers that spent time in the penalty box before this practice was stopped. The police commissioner believed security should be done by private entities.
My Dad, George Gignac, who is a retired Detroit Police Officer, was assigned twice to Red Wings hockey games around 1947.
Detroit was playing Chicago and there was a big fight involving Ted Lindsay. Four players were sent to the penalty box and Dad had to kneel behind the players. There was a lot of yelling, threats and swearing, but Dad was glad there was no fighting in the penalty box since he barely made the Department's height and weight minimum!
One time Dad and his partner stopped a car for speeding and it turned out to be Ted Lindsay who stated his occupation was sales for a car dealer. When asked if he also worked at Olympia Stadium, Lindsay said, "sometimes." Yes, he was still playing at the time, but was extremely modest.
When Dad worked on the plainclothes four-man cruiser, they got a call to go to Sid Abel's Bar. Abel wanted to report his championship ring was either stolen or lost, but he didn't want uniformed police in the bar. Later it was reported that the ring was found in the bar.
My Dad is a cancer survivor, was awarded the Purple Heart in WWII, and was 87 on March 27th. He lives in Reno, Nevada and watches all the Red Wing games.
I know you must be busy, so I thank you in advance for your attention. I was wondering if this was an odd enough old time fact, as well as a tribute to Terrible Ted, that you might publish this as a belated birthday nod to my Dad.
Happy birthday, Mr. Gignac.