Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sick and Tired of the Double Standard

I've never been one who's shy when it comes to critisizing Gary Bettman and his NHL administration for many things. Things such as not putting US franchises on life support back in Canada and his adversion to continuing Olympic participation after the 2010 Olympic games but now I have a new bone to pick: The Double Standard. What I'm talking about is the obvious double standard when it comes to supplementary discipline handed down to players for major infractions. This problem has once again reared it's ugly head this week on two seperate occasions, with two Russians in Evgeni Artyukhin and Alex Ovechkin and then Tuomo Ruutu and Mike Richards.

Artyukhin was suspended three games by the NHL earlier this week for slew footing Dallas Stars dman Matt Niskanen yet the next night Alex Ovechkin did the same thing to Atlanta's Rich Peverly and he merely got a 2,500$ fine. It was the exact same infraction and the looked the exact same yet here we are, Alex Ovechkin got away with it because he is the NHL's best player and a guy who sells tickets.

Even worse was the later example of Ruutu and Richards. Both hits delivered serious injuries and were clear attempts to injure the opposing player yet the NHL chose to only suspend Ruutu. Ruutu's hit was one that was delivered from behind that knocked Darcy Tucker out of the game and out of conciousness last week and indeed clearly deserved a suspension. Richards hit was a late blindside hit where he caught Florida's David Booth coming across the middle watching the puck long after he'd dished to his line mate, Richards lowered his shoulder and then drove it into Booth's jaw knocking him unconscious. If had been any other player then the Captain of the Philadelphia Flyers and the face of hockey of one of the NHL's flagship franchises he definitely would have been suspended but since he put's butt's in the seats in Philly the NHL doesn't have the ball's to suspende him. This problem will only get worse until Gary Bettman, Bill Daly and Colin Campbell are relieved of their duties.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Best Commentary Teams

A little dibated subject is the quality of commentary teams for NHL broacasts in Canada. Everyone has their favorite team, teams that they don't mind listening to and the teams that make you cringe when you turn on your tv and your hear their voice. Let's start off with the good teams and those that need improvement, aka the one's in the middle:


Jim Hughson & Craig Simpson: HNIC's top commentary as they usually cover the Leafs games on saturday nights. These two are a decent combination as Hughson is probably one of the top 2 play-by-play guys in the business. Craig Simpson does a decent job at colour commentary although he's definitely got some room to improve. The one downside to the team is that they have to buy into the CBC mandated Leafs bias that makes you want to barf.

Mark Lee & Kevin Weekes: A definite CBC theme here. Mark Lee does a better job then most give him credit for and Kevin Weekes has actually provided good insight into the games he's done so far but he's still very raw.

Needs Improvement:

Bob Cole & Greg Millen: When Harry Neale retired that spelled the end for Bob Cole's run at the top as those two went together like peanut butter and jam. While it pains me as a Habs fan, due to Bob Cole's constent Maple Leaf mindset, I have to admit he's one of the best play-by-play commentater's ever. This team would be alot better if Greg Millen wasn't involved in any way however as he's got to be the third worst colour guy in the game(after Leafs suck Glenn Healy who just joined their team and one who will be mentioned later).

All Sportsnet teams: The Sportsnet teams are all basically rejects who couldn't cut it at TSN and CBC or weren't wanted. All of them or passable but really not that great.

The Best:

Chris Cuthbert & Ray Ferraro: This is by far my favorite announce team on tv. Letting Cuthbert go was one of the many major blunders commited by CBC sports during the time period where that network lost almost every important sports program that they had except for HNIC. He's fantastic at his job. And Ferraro is by far and away the best colour guy in the game today as he provides maybe the best insight into the game and he's probably the most unbiased commentator.

The Worst:

Gord Miller & Pierre McGuire: This almost has nothing to do with Gord Miller as he'd probably fall in the good category on his own as he's a decent play-by-play guy. Unfortunately for him his partner drags him down. Pierre McGuire is by far the worst colour commentator on canadian hockey broadcasts. Not only is he wholly and completely biased against certain organizations(i.e. Oilers, Islanders, Canadiens) but he's followed the media masses in kissing Brian Burke's ass and claiming that everything he touches turns to gold and laches on to certain players, pumps them up beyond and ignores their completely obvious faults *cough*Dion Phaneuf*cough*. Just retire already Pierre.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

First Impressions of Opening Weekend

-The Central division is the power division of the NHL. Chicago, Columbus, and St.Louis all look like they're ready to join the discussion as legitemate contenders in the Western Conference. Chicago's elite level offence including names like Kane, Toews, Sharp, Bolland, Hossa, Byufglien and maybe the best all around blueline corps in the league with Keith, Seabrook, Campbell and Barker manning the top 4, however how far will their goaltending (Huet) take them? The Columbus Blue Jackets have an offence that is becoming one of the league's best with Nash, Huselius, Umberger, Filatov, Modin, Voracek and Brassard, a goaltender that won the Calder Trophy last year (Steve Mason) however can Ken Hitchcock's system mask their underwhelming D corps? Finally the St.Louis Blues served notice with two straight wins over the Wings this weekend that they have arrived with a elite forward corps consisting of names like Tkachuk, Kariya, T.J. Oshie, Patrick Berglund, Andy McDonald, David Perron and budding power forward David Backes. However beyond Erik Johnson the D corps is lacking playmakers and how long can career backup Chris Mason keep up his hot play?

-Alex Ovechkin is on a mission this year. He didn't like watching the Penguins win the cup especially after defeating his Caps in the second round. He is coming out on fire and his team is following suit. Playing the Capitals isn't going to be fun this year.

-The Vancouver Canucks have come out of the gate very flat, especially Roberto Luongo. Yes he is a notorious slow starter but he's supposed to be the leader of his team and right now his team is following him in the wrong direction.

-As shown in their game against Carolina, and probably motivated by their second round ouster at the hands of the Canes, the Bruins are once again going to use physical intimidation as their main tool to rule the East once again.

-The Philadelphia Flyers and Ray Emery have come out and played to expectations so far with Emery leading the way with two very good goaltending performances.

-Carey Price has stolen 4 points for the Habs to start the season. And with Andrei Markov out for 4 months and and a suprisingly good Ryan O'Byrne out for the next 6 weeks, Price is going to have to keep standing on his head to keep the Habs in it till those two come back.

-John Tavares had a very impressive debut with a goal and an assist.

-The Ottawa Senators look just as bad as they did last year. Their defence still sucks and Dany Heatley's goals are going to be much harder to replace then the canadian media are letting on.

-Brian Burke's much ballyhoode new defence has been less then impressive to say the least. Mike Komisarek and Francois Beauchemin were awful against Montreal and then the whole team collapsed against Washington. Unless they tighten up it's going to be a long year for Vesa Toskala and "The Monster".

-Calgary, with Bouwmeester taking a lot of pressure off of Dion Phaneuf which has lead to far more confident play, is looking like they will challenge to be the class of the west.

-I was very impressed with the Oilers and the way they played against Calgary, particularly Sam Gagner, and if it wasn't for Khabibulin's puck handling skills they had a good chance to beat Calgary.

-It's going to be a long, drawn out battle for the Pacific between San Jose and Anaheim. I'll take Anaheim, more depth and their goaltending has proved to be far more clutch then anything San Jose has.