Things are going exceedingly well for the Los Angeles Kings lately.
They're in the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1993, when they needed four or five Hall of Famers (depending on if you count Rob Blake, and I do) and a virtual All-Star team to get there. They got there by beating the first-, second-, and third-seeded teams in the West. They beat them all with alarming ease, winning 12 of 14 games in a run of terrible efficiency not seen since the 1988 Edmonton Oilers won a Cup in 18 games.
They have done all of this despite suffering from something that would have ripped apart most teams' chances like a bird going through a jet engine, and brought considerable shame on the parties responsible.
Namely, two of the team's three highest-paid forwards haven't been especially good in terms of putting points on the board.
Mike Richards and Jeff Carter have a combined 20 points in 14 playoff games. That includes only eight goals, three of which came for Carter in Game 2 against Phoenix. Not great totals for two guys who combined are making just over $11 million against the cap, especially when Dustin Penner and Justin Williams both have comparable point totals (both of them having more than Carter's mere nine).
The narrative has been that this has been a season in which they proved their doubters wrong because they're not actively being detrimental to their teams, as they apparently were in Philadelphia, but that they need to pick up their individual games. And they could probably do that if not for the fact that Darryl Sutter is positively burying them at every opportunity.
Behind the Net shows that both are starting considerably less than half their shifts in the offensive zone, and are getting outshot by hefty margins as a result; with Richards and Carter occupying the team's third-worst and actually-worst Corsi rates in these playoffs.
But nonetheless, both have been on the ice for more goals for than against (not necessarily hard when you're winning 12 of your 14 games, admittedly), and are also wrapping the majority of their shifts in the offensive zone despite starting more than 54 percent of them 180 feet in the wrong direction.
They've also been doing it against the toughest competition the Kings face.
All of which is a long way of saying that Darryl Sutter has been using them largely in shutdown roles. And despite that fact, they and their linemates have scored pretty consistently. Of course, it probably doesn't make sense to use two guys making more than $5 million apiece as shutdown players over the long haul, and neither has really tapped the potential they showed in the past, which netted Richards an Olympic team invite, Carter a 40-goal season and both fat, long contracts.
But if the practical upshot of putting them out there in those situations nets Dustin Penner a starring role and frees Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar to become the kind of force they've been for the Kings in these playoffs, then it's pretty hard to criticize either Sutter's personnel decisions or the performances of Richards and Carter.
Obviously, the team would like to see them put more shots on goal — Richards in particular fewer than Trevor Lewis — and certainly start filling the nets at a more convincing rate, but they'll certainly settle for this.
If either one gets even the slightest scoring touch going for themselves in the Finals, then the team that emerges from the East will probably see their Stanley Cup dreams wiped out in a hurry.The problem with "While the Men Watch" isn't that it's sexist (but it's that too)
So much hate for the "While the Men Watch" audio channel that CBC is going to broadcast in a laughably misguided attempt to woo the approximately four people in Canada who have little to no interest in hockey (who's generalizing now?).
Most have categorized it as sexist, and it certainly is that. In the video Julie Veilleux linked on this site yesterday, the women — I hestiate to call them masterminds — behind While the Men Watch sickeningly refer to themselves as "Sex and the City meets ESPN," which assumes that anyone in the universe was actually looking for an intersection of such things.
There are a lot of problems with the whole concept, and the fact that it's shockingly misogynist isn't even at the front of the pack.
Sure, it basely assumes women are shallow idiots not interested in the sport, but the real issue is that any kind of pandering like this is always going to be poorly-received, especially when it plays exclusively to stereotypes related to race, gender, nationality and so forth. Can you imagine, for example, how insufferable an audio feed for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals would be if it was done specifically for people who like that whole "Jersey Shore" culture?
"Eyyy lookit this guy, he's gettin the puck to his buddy there, bada boom bada bing it's in the net!"
"Ohhhh that play was better than my mother's red sauce! I bet these guys can't wait to go party after this one!"
"Don't go in the corner with Dustin Brown you'll get whacked!"
It would, rightly, be called out as offensive and terrible.
And the other issue is that any women who might sit there and let their husbands tell them what they're going to watch, will almost certainly not be able to convince him that listening to two morons blather on about the makeover tips they'd give Anze Kopitar and whether Matt Greene could be their boyfriend is a viable way to spend his evening with the Stanley Cup Finals. This reeks of men in a board room trying to guess at what women want, then finding two cartoon characters to deliver it.
I'm sure more than a few people will check it out for Game 1 thanks to a morbid curiosity, and I have faith that the internet will dutifully compile the dumbest garbage these ladies have to say into YouTube videos. But think of it this way: In all the discussion about this in the media and on Twitter, how many people have said that this is even a slightly good idea, or one with any merit?
They say any publicity is good publicity, but they don't say the same about insipid gender role-reinforcing female minstrelry during hockey games, and there's a good reason for that. It's extremely offensive and will only serve to get people upset.
Pearls of Biz-dom
We all know that there isn't a better Twitter account out there than that of Paul Bissonnette. So why not find his best bit of advice on love, life and lappers from the last week?
BizNasty on the radio's hard choices: "At this point I'd rather sacrifice my ears to a whole Nickelback album than hear the song 'Someone that I used to know' one more time."
If you've got something for Trending Topics, holla at Lambert on Twitter or via e-mail. He'll even credit you so you get a thousand followers in one day and you'll become the most popular person on the Internet! You can also visit his blog if you're so inclined.
- Sports & Recreation
- Ice Hockey
- Darryl Sutter
- Dustin Penner
- Los Angeles Kings
- Stanley Cup
- Mike Richards