September 27, 2010
What We Learned, our weekend news and views roundup, is
written by Puck Daddy editor Greg Wyshynski this week. Ryan Lambert returns
Do you care where the players on your favorite team are born?
In the NFL, it's less about heritage than it is about alma mater; most fans tell could you where a given player suited up for college ball than where his mama raised him. It's the same in the NBA, save for those situations in which a foreign player becomes the focal point on the team. Then you're either with Yao or against him. Also, in basketball as well as baseball, these superfluous concerns typically veer closer to arguments about race than about birthplace.
The NHL is beautifully chaotic because it's anything but homogenous. Some have likened an NHL dressing room to the United Nations, but it's more like G.I. Joe headquarters: Everyone knows there are North American ground rules, but that this collection of cultures features the best in the world at what they do, and that has a funny way of cutting through the international conflict.
(The mental floodgates that just opened for the NHL-as-G.I. Joe would take far too much bandwidth this morning to close. We'll simply say this: Bill Guerin(notes) for Shipwreck and Pavel Datsyuk(notes) for Snake-Eyes.)
As puckheads, we can occasionally see NHL players through the prisms of race or amateur hockey loyalties; but, more frequently, we'll label them through their nationalities. "A Russian sniper." "The shifty Swede." "Mike Ricci, ruler of the Rodent Kingdom."
This is due to the fact that international hockey tournaments have conditioned us to cheer for the homeland rather than the individual. Henrik Sedin(notes) didn't just win the Hart last season; Sweden held off Canada (Sidney Crosby(notes)) and Russia (Alex Ovechkin(notes)) for the honor. That view doesn't trump the fact that a Canuck topped a Penguin and a Capital, or that West bested East. But it certainly played on one's mind during an Olympic year.
Which is to say that nationality is something that matters,
something to be celebrated. It's just that some in Canada want to formalize
that celebration: It's not enough that Canadians make up large percentages of
each NHL roster; no, these people want a mandatory
percentage of Canadians to take up roster space on the six Canadian
franchises. Does the NHL need nationality quotas?
(Coming Up: Josh Harding's(notes) gruesome injury; Colorado chasing Langenbrunner; the Stanley Cup goes Irish; Samsonov's scary moment; good injury news for the Wings; Marc Savard's(notes) harrowing tale of depression; Craig Rivet's(notes) weird throat injury; how we all made Ales Kotalik(notes) good again; Bret Hart becomes a Ranger; Florida hockey videos; focusing on Sidney's groin; Jordan Eberle(notes) is amazing; and a blog predicts a five-game suspension for Ovechkin this season.)
Nationally, 53 per cent of the respondents in a survey commissioned by the Montreal-based Association for Canadian Studies said they agreed with the idea that Canadian-based NHL teams should have a minimum percentage of Canadian players.
Notably, 61 per cent of women surveyed supported a quota system, while only 44 per cent of men did.
To the surprise of no one, there was a difference between French and English speakers, as 72 percent of French-speakers favored the quotas:
On a geographic basis -- which closely reflects the country's linguistic profile because of the high number of French speakers in Quebec -- the province the Canadiens call home was by far the most supportive of a Canadian-content quota for NHL teams.
While 69 per cent of Quebec respondents agreed with the concept, support was lower, but still significant in other parts of the country: Atlantic Canada (54 percent), Alberta (51 percent), B.C. (47 percent), Ontario (46 percent) and Manitoba/Saskatchewan (45 percent).
There are two ways of looking at this idea of Canadian player quotas: Logistically and logically.
Logistically, it's a mess. Would this fantasy quota apply to "Canadians" or to specific players from each province? Do the Oilers and Flames have to battle it out for their quota of Albertans? How is that fair when the Canucks have all of B.C.?
Furthermore: What happens when someone gets injured? Let's say the Leafs have an incredible prospect that happens to be from Minnesota, lighting up the AHL. They lose an Ontario-born player on the NHL roster to injury; could they not call up the American because they wouldn't meet their quota otherwise?
But logically ... gotta admit there's actually some merit here. If having a firm minimum of Canadian players is a way for more Canadians to give a crap about the NHL, rock on. Face it: Having a connection with players due to geography is something palpable for NHL fans, and not just in Canada: Have you seen the ink spilled on Nashville native Blake Geoffrion(notes) this summer? Or the hype that surrounded the Ducks snagging Long Beach's Emerson Etem?
So, in summary: The quota system isn't necessarily a terrible idea until you realize it's friggin' impossible to conceive or implement.
But more to the point: Is a lack of Canadian players on Canadian teams really the issue? Because even the 2009-10 Montreal Canadiens, in their final game against the Flyers, had 11 Canadiens to go along with three Americans, four Czechs and a Russian.
What We Learned
Anaheim Ducks: The Ducks released Stephane Veilleux(notes) from his tryout contract, as having a guy who tries to start fights after the ref breaks them up isn't exactly a roster need. Too bad ... the world needs more penalty box comedians:
Atlanta Thrashers: The bad news? Nik Antropov(notes) is still recovering from offseason hip injury. The good news? His absence has given the world a line in which Chris Thorburn(notes) centers Ben Eager(notes) and Anthony Stewart(notes). Which is the hockey line pairing equivalent of strapping a side of beef to a boulder and sending it out on skates.
Boston Bruins: While the big news was that Marc Savard could start the season on long-term injured reserve, the great Kevin Paul Dupont vividly captured the Bruins center's battle with depression during his post-concussion recovery.
Buffalo Sabres: Craig Rivet's return from offseason shoulder surgery has been delayed because he's out with a "throat contusion." Lindy Ruff said the Sabres "don't really know exactly how it happened" and wasn't sure if it was hockey related. He also didn't say anything about Rivet harming his throat by practicing saber-swallowing for a glorious opening night bit of performance art. Which is our theory.
Calgary Flames: Someone claiming to be Ales Kotalik had two goals, two assists and a shootout winner in two exhibition games. Seriously, though, Kotalik credits team shrink Dr. Dave Paskevich for helping him through his self-loathing: "You try to find out reasons why it's not going well, and maybe I got stuck in that too much last year and wasn't able to do things I wanted."
Carolina Hurricanes: Sergei Samsonov(notes) was hit and tripped by Dustin Byfuglien(notes) of the Thrashers, crashing head-first into the boards, laying motionless for a few minutes, being carried off on a stretcher and taken to the hospital. The result: Thankfully for the Canes, a sprained neck.
Chicago Blackhawks: Notre Dame grad Stan Bowman took the Stanley Cup to the sidelines of South Bend for the ND/Stanford game, symbolically reminding the Fighting Irish that teams with a rich history, classic uniforms and legions of bandwagon fans can, in fact, eventually win a championship again.
Colorado Avalanche: With Peter Mueller(notes) out with a concussion, Adrian Dater plays matchmaker for the Avs and believes they could offer the Devils some cap relief by taking Jamie Langenbrunner(notes) off their hands. Meanwhile, Devils beat blog Fire and Ice says the Avalanche are actually interested in Langenbrunner, leading us to believe that Dater performed an Inception on GM Greg Sherman.
Columbus Blue Jackets: An IT guy in Columbus created the design for a 10th anniversary mask that goalie Mathieu Garon(notes) selected out of 83 entries. He used Adobe Photoshop to create it; the other 82 apparently used Microsoft Paint. By the way, next time your IT guy is three hours late in getting your computer back on the network, now you know why.
Edmonton Oilers: Nikolai Khabibulin(notes) gave up a sobering goal to Ryan Kesler(notes), but popped the champagne on his 2010-11 season with 26 saves in an 8-2 shellacking of the Canucks on Sunday night.
Florida Panthers: George Richards is branching out into some video work on the Panthers beat, and here's his interview with Radek Dvorak's(notes) giant head. Thankfully the camera doesn't dip below chin level.
Los Angeles Kings: Terry Murray didn't like what he saw from the Kings in the neutral zone during their preseason action. "Checking-wise, I watched the game at Phoenix on my computer, and there were a couple times, whenever the middle of the ice got exposed, that they walked in and had a couple of breakaways." Wait ... Terry Murray owns a computer?!
Minnesota Wild: Our hearts go out to Josh Harding, as there are men with voodoo curses on them who have had better luck in the last few years. He tore both the anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in his right knee on this play, and could miss the regular season for the Wild. Said Harding: "I kind of went into shock. I knew something was wrong. I was hoping it wasn't this."
Nashville Predators: Hometown hero Blake Geoffrion shows off his bedroom, including most of the jerseys he's worn in his career hanging chronologically on a hockey stick. Always a nice reminder that the kids playing this game are, you know, kids.
New York Islanders: One week into the preseason, the New York Islanders invite Dean McAmmond(notes), Manny Legace(notes), Anders Eriksson(notes), Krys Kolanos and Joel Martin to training camp as tryouts. Yes, Manny Legace, as confidence in Rick DiPietro's(notes) health continues to surge. (Speaking of health: Our coverage of the Mark Streit injury.)
New York Rangers: Yes, we know you're pro-wrestling'd out from the Puck Daddy previews. But know this: Bret Hart was given his own Rangers jersey at an MSG WWE house show on Sunday during a special ceremony, with "HITMAN 10" on the back. (Lousy video here.) Which is to say that Bret Hart was given a Jersey Foul at an MSG house show. Here's a Bret Hart interview during a Rangers preseason game, talking about his lack of hockey prowess and his World War II romance novel (!!!).
Ottawa Senators: The Sens have 12 forwards on one-way contracts; so who plays where after the Michalek-Spezza-Alfredsson line? "Would Foligno, Kelly and Ruutu be anything more than a mayhem line?
San Jose Sharks: Please add Todd McLellan to your list of potential future commissioners. Not a fan of the silly split-squad games, either: "Coaches in the league have to do that in a lot of different areas. I don't necessarily like all the rules - I don't like the shootout. But it's part of the game. We're in the entertainment business and we have to accept it."
St. Louis Blues: The Blues power play was awesome under Andy Murray two years ago, then it sucked last year, then Murray got fired. So now what? How's about moving Inglorious Backes into the Keith Tkachuk(notes) role of Immovable Object In Front of the Crease?
Tampa Bay Lightning: Damien Cristodero also getting into the video work on Lightning Strikes. Feel the intensity of Guy Boucher. "We weren't ready to start the game. So we're going to take care of that."
Toronto Maple Leafs: Nazem Kadri(notes) and John Mitchell(notes) struggled at camp and Wayne Primeau(notes) was released, so the Leafs will be scanning the waiver wire for solutions at center. Say, bet they could get a good one for Tomas Kaberle(notes)! Wait, what? Stupid no good lousy Brian Burke "my word is my bond" jive.
Gold Star Award
We kid the Blackhawks fans about the "bandwagon" stuff because we know they can take it, but honestly: 20,553 for a preseason game against the Red Wings is absolutely sick, and a tribute to how those fans have embraced that team and vice versa.
Minus of the Weekend
Ilya Kovalchuk(notes) has looked good on the ice for the Devils this preseason, but against the Rangers on Saturday he had to clarify that his "zip it" wasn't a throat slash after he let the world see that, yet again, Sean Avery(notes) had pushed his buttons. The last thing Jersey needs is for Kovalchuk to get rattled by Avery in the regular season, but there's about a 100-percent chance it'll happen.
Play of the Weekend
Perfect HFBoards trade proposal of the week
HemskyToHall, a completely impartial observer, offers this deal:
Keep in mind that McCabe and Stillman both have expiring contracts while Souray is on the hook for an additional season. Also keep in mind this trade is stupid.
Nine million terrorists in the world and I gotta kill one with feet smaller than my sister.
Ryan Lambert will return on Friday with Trending Topics.