Hey everybody; time for another week-in-recap from the seven days past in the NHL and the hockey world at large.
Tsk. Tsk. Tsk.
A producer at Pittsburgh television station FSN Pittsburgh has been suspended indefinitely for allegedly holding back a conclusive goal-scoring tape from NHL head offices during the dispute of the goal in question. Almost immediately after play resumed, the replay was played on television, sparking an instant response from the TV station. There isn’t much of a commentary one can put on this; if he knowingly held back the conclusive replay, he damaged the integrity of the game, and one “small” instance is far and away one too many. But it only makes one of two more disturbing on-ice/off-ice moments of controversy this week in the NHL which, taken together, paint a slightly more troubling picture, as entirely unrelated as the two incidents are. Story link.
Alex Burrows, the late-blooming dynamite Vancouver Canucks winger, was fined for alleging that referee Stephane Auger specifically and explicitly targeted Burrows for retribution following a controversial call in a game in December. One of the many pundits I listened to about this (whoever it was, I can’t exactly remember, but I’m sure the sentiment was shared more than once) had it right: that in the eyes of Colin Campbell, it’s Auger’s word vs. Burrows, and Campbell came down on the side of the referee, fining Burrows $2500 and declaring his comments “detrimental” to the integrity of the game. $2500 is chump change (on that note, it would be nice if the NHL cranked its fine scale up for all infractions past the 1950s-sized rate it apparently uses), but what’s interesting to note about this is how fellow players reacted. Most of the players I heard said something along the lines of words spoken on the ice stay on the ice, and that Burrows should just put his head down and get on with it, as there’s referee biases everywhere. Story link.
Brian Burke: Bold, Bloody, Beleaguered and…Benevolent?
Brian Burke, GM of the beleaguered Maple Leafs, has unequivocally stated his support behind coach Ron Wilson. Despite the Maple Leafs’ tumble down the standings following a late-2009 push towards mediocrity, Burke doesn’t blame the coach for the mess the team is, blaming the players as a collective for lack of effort and concentration. Despite a complete overhaul of the roster over the last few years — something it’s still in the middle of doing — the hallmark of the Maple Leafs over the past decade and a half has been flashes of brilliance surrounded by game after game of lackluster effort, uninspired play and fluctuating concentration. Much like Burke, I don’t feel the problem is inherent in the Burke/Wilson tandem, it’s in the fact that this team lacks any kind of identity. Burke’s efforts to keep the team competitive while it rebuilds, while noble, can only really work if the team was pretty decent in the recent past (see: Philadelphia, Anaheim, etc of recent years). In the Leafs’ case, they were terrible, and the roster deserved to be eviscerated. Instead, the players are stuck skating in circles, unsure of their future and uncertain of their role. Story link.
The Betty Islander Clinic
Leave it to the New York Islanders to periodically rescue the careers of Doug Weight and Bill Guerin, attach themselves at the hip to chronic ER patient Rick DiPietro and put their weight behind the Chris Simons of the world. Beyond these shining examples of well-intentioned-if-occasionally-misguided benevolence comes the case of Robbie Schremp, a sharp talent with a flip-flopping ‘tude. Tossed to the wolves in Edmonton before waiting (presumably) patiently on the bench of New York, now that Schremp finally has a regular chance at the NHL, he seems to be taking advantage of it. Don’t look now, but he’s scoring shootout winners, eight points in six games and generally playing like he belongs. Bless. Story link.