Dose: Missing the Lesson

James O'Brien
Tuesday's Hockey Dose addresses talk of automatic goalie fight suspensions and provides fantasy updates

Dose: Missing the Lesson

Tuesday's Hockey Dose addresses talk of automatic goalie fight suspensions and provides fantasy updates

While I back up the emotional implications of the analogy between the NHL’s ineptitude regarding policing its violence and the frustration of dealing with a negligent landlord (or really, any customer service nightmare), maybe I erred on Monday in implying that nothing is ever done. Sure, I still think there are often conflicts of interest at play, but the problem might not be total inertia.

Instead, the league often approaches problem solving as ineptly as an English class full of students who simply cannot soak in the message of a work of literature.

So, after observing the fallout on Monday, it feels like it’s more a matter of misunderstanding that sheer indifference. (Though there’s the question of willful ignorance …)

I feel pretty comfortable in saying that however Ray Emery feels about the results for Braden Holtby, he certainly isn’t unhappy about his bigger picture situation right now. Really, without knowing the man, I may estimate that this could very well be one of the best weekends of his life.

Just to roll out the running tally, Emery:

1) Became something of a cult hero in Philadelphia.

2) Apparently didn’t hurt his hands enough on Holtby’s face/skull enough that he couldn’t follow Friday’s “performance” with a low degree-of-difficulty shutout on Saturday (14 saves against the New Jersey Devils).

3) Dramatically increased his chances of getting more starts in the short term after being grossly outplayed by Steve Mason, which is no small concern since Emery’s in another contract year.

4) Shook President Obama’s hand as part of his former team’s visit to the White House, which he admitted was highly inspirational.

5) Probably didn’t consume a roach-like being.

He also didn’t get suspended or even fined, which is a problem. It doesn’t help that the league has a strange way of addressing this issue and preventing a similar event from happening again.

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In case you missed it, reports surfaced that the NHL is discussing an automatic 10-game suspension for goalie fights when a netminder crosses center ice.

While I actually like the idea of making center ice the cut-off point - that would be a nice, artificial way of allowing a guy like Holtby to not be menaced by Emery, being that goalies are basically the last people expected to drop the gloves - it all rings of throwing out the baby with the bath water. (Or, in Emery’s case, throwing the $500 out of the locker room with the insect.)


The issue at hand isn’t that two goalies fought on Friday. The problem - and let’s hope this is clear, even to the NHL - is that one of those netminders clearly didn’t even want to fight. And then the other goalie cruelly kept throwing punches when his opponent’s defeat should have been pretty clear.

Maybe the league needs to be a lot sterner when it comes to suspensions for aggressors (word is that Emery would have to do something similar two more times just to maybe get a two-game suspension … ridiculous). Maybe the league could hand out supplemental discipline to a man who openly admits that he fought someone who didn’t want to fight.

Whatever tweak or remedy they decide upon (or at least discuss) eliminating the goalie fight seems like the silliest conclusion from a situation that vacillates between silly and sad. If you’re like me and aren’t enamored with fights but can generally tolerate them - at least when they’re, you know, consensual - two netminders dropping the mitts still holds enough novelty to actually be kind of exciting. Sometimes. (The usual clash of concussion-risky enforcers is instead usually depressing, boring or both. And just about always pointless.)


For me, the Brent Johnson - Rick DiPietro scuffle ranks as a perfect foil for the Emery - Holtby bout, with the only (rather significant) downside being that DiPietro ended up hurt.

In this scenario, both goalies appeared eager to fight. It’s memorable in part because Johnson absolutely clobbered Ricky D, but where Emery seemed to roll up the comical idea of “The Code” in a ball and deposit in a trash bin, Johnson emboldened the concept by stopping immediately when it was clear that DiPietro was in trouble.

Isolating Emery - Holtby as the only problem fight from Friday (and in general) is faulty, yet that’s how these things work. Falsely identifying goalie fights as the problem is even more wrong-minded.

Instead, how about making sure that two people are willingly fighting and punish those who bully others in potentially dangerous ways? Whether it’s being willing to dole out a major instigator penalty, escalating the aggressor plan to give it actual teeth or some other plan, the simple truth is that Emery probably shouldn’t enjoy what might be one of the greatest weekends of his life after what just happened.

But he probably did, and it sounds like the NHL will either a) do little about it or b) overreact and nuke the entire situation when the surgical precision of a strike team would be more appropriate.

Sometimes, it just feels like we can’t reach these kids.


-- With Viktor Fasth still in injury limbo, it's difficult to ignore what Frederik Andersen is accomplishing, even if Jonas Hiller's getting most of the starts. Andersen is having a Fasth-like start to his NHL career, as the Dane is 4-0-0 with a .952 save percentage and 1.36 GAA. I'm uncertain how often he'll play and how large his window of opportunity really is, but can't blame you for pulling the trigger if you're hurting for goalies.

-- After putting together four points in his last two games, Mathieu Perreault only received 10:09 of ice time on Monday. Is he hurt or in Bruce Boudreau's doghouse? Hopefully there will be more info available, as he's absolutely been fantasy relevant with 13 points in 15 GP.

-- Luca Sbisa had a nice season debut, collecting an assist, one SOG, six hits and one blocked shot in 18:12 of ice time. Hard to argue that he's really fantasy relevant in most formats, at least not yet.

-- Ryan Callahan looked like himself in his return to action. He had an assist, two SOG and a whopping six hits last night.

-- Carl Hagelin managed an assist in just 13 minutes of ice time. He's something of a hockey bloggers' darling and it's easy to see why. Will he eventually get more ice time/opportunities, then?


-- I was expecting a strong rookie season from Mark Scheifele, but that hasn't really panned out. He at least had a nice showing on Monday, with two assists and some nice work alongside Michael Frolik.

-- The Jets have to at least entertain the thought of giving Al Montoya more starts, at least in the short term, right? He's 2-1-0 with great numbers (.939 save percentage, 1.69 GAA) and 5-2-1 in his rare Winnipeg opportunities the past two seasons. Beyond Montoya's small sample size success, there's also Ondrej Pavelec's sustained mediocrity to consider. I don't want to interrupt the Jets' coma-like "development," though, so I'll can it.

-- Dustin Byfuglien and Zach Bogosian's lack of puck luck continues to amaze, as both are still without a tally despite a combined 91 SOG (52 for Byfuglien, 39 for Bogosian). Strange.

-- Gotta love Andrew Ladd's hard-working statline: one goal, one assist, two PIM, four SOG and three hits.

-- Workhorse numbers are useful, but Jimmy Howard sure is logging a lot of mileage. Howard faced a whopping 47 SOG on Monday and has played seven of the last eight games (just two wins).

INJURIES (full list)

Evander Kane missed Monday's game with a lower-body injury ... Alex Ovechkin implies that he can play Tuesday after missing a couple games with an upper-body issue ... Sounds like Dave Bolland could be sidelined for months, which is no shock ... Brenden Morrow was placed on the IR (upper body) ... Jeff Skinner is seeking a second opinion on whatever his upper-body injury is ... The Senators recalled Nathan Lawson to back up Craig Anderson, so his "stiff neck" is at least a temporary concern ... Anton Volchenkov (lower body) is yet another Devils player who's on the mend. Jonathon Merrill may, in fact, be dealing with a concussion while the Devils are concerned Ryane Clowe's may keep him out long-term ... Brendan Smith is day-to-day with a shoulder injury ... Alex Tanguay could miss a few weeks with his knee problem.

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