Dobber's Take

Some hockey-related items that have nothing to do with fantasy pools.  Just some things that bother me in the 'politically correct' hockey world that I want to get off my chest.  If you don't agree with my point of view, then by all means write me and argue.  Just remember one thing - you're wrong.  Long live Don Cherry!

Dobber's take on...

Anson Carter as a UFA

Someone on the FAN590 on Friday, I believe it was Paul Jones who should stick to basketball, stated that Anson Carter made the Sedin twins. 

Whoa.

I've put up with all the Blog comments, emails, articles, and radio phone-ins from fans (mostly of the 'Leaf' variety) urging their team to pony up the $3 million bones and sign Carter, but that statement just pushed me over the line. Let me be clear on something: Anson Carter is an average second-line winger. When he is at his best, he does not belong on anyone's first line unless that team is truly one of the worst teams in the NHL. It is doubtful that he will ever hit the 61-point mark, and he will never tally 66 points. Unless he joins a beer league. So how will he help your team win the Stanley Cup again? Some Anson Carter facts (followed by my opinions, which may as well be facts because they're so great):

1) As a Ranger, he totaled 11 goals, 22 points in 54 games. As a King, he garnered one point in 15 games, and as a Capital he had 15 points in 38 games. So he did well in Boston, Edmonton, and Vancouver, but poorly in Washington, New York, and Los Angeles. Looks like a 50/50 proposition for any team that signs him!

2) Carter's career high is 60 points. My money is on him never getting that again. It's possible, but I would bet cold cash against it.

3) He's hit the 30-goal mark once. Last year. That's because of the Sedins. They didn't rack up 75 and 71 points each because of Carter and his 33 goals, that's for sure. Their linemate is expected to put in at least 25, so if Carter joins them and pots 33, then what he brings to the line is eight goals. So maybe he added several points to their totals. They added about 15 to his!

4) Leaf fans: Carter is not the missing piece to the puzzle. He will not come and lead Toronto to the Stanley Cup. He will not come and be the answer to Mats Sundin's skilled winger problems. Sundin needs an elite winger. Carter would be about 100th on the list, and he wouldn't even be ahead of some wingers already on the Leaf team!

Some more thoughts on point number four - Jeff O'Neill is a better bet to be that skilled winger Sundin so desperately needs over Carter. I'm not saying O'Neill is the answer. I'm saying I would rather he play there than Carter. Far more talent. Will we see the talent again? Maybe, maybe not. But he has far more talent than Carter. He's two years younger than Carter, and he has hit that 30-goal plateau three times as often. He has beat Carter's career-high on FOUR different occasions. Don't overrate Carter. Without the Sedins on his line, he'll be lucky to crack the 50-point mark.

Got an opinion on this?  Email me.  If you agree with me, I might print it.  If you really piss me off, I'll definitely print it.  dobber@dobberhockey.com

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counter hit xanga people wish they had a place to vent their anger at some of hockey's nonsense.

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Richards signs, McCabe signs...Leafs and Gaborik are dumb

Brad Richards was signed to a five-year deal for $39 million bones by the Lightning. This is old news. The repercussions of this deal are slowly filtering out into various media columns, and now I have to speak up. Why? Because I have a problem keeping my mouth shut and I like to stick my nose in everyone else’s business.

Bryan McCabe signed a five-year deal for just under $29 million. I need to speak up on this one because…well, for the same reasons. This one strikes a little closer to home because I am based in Toronto and the Leafs are one of four teams that I try and watch every game (Phoenix, Pittsburgh, and Buffalo have been the others this year).

First point – Gaborik’s agent is looking for similar money from Minnesota now. My eyes widened and I had to hold in my laughter on this one. Okay, I failed. The laughter came out. I am not questioning Gaborik’s skill. One-on-one, he really does not have too many peers. He has shifty moves that look fancy both live and on television. He is burdened by a defensive style thrust upon him by a coach that still can’t accept the fact that it’s a whole new game now. He can probably pass just as well, if not better (by a little) than Richards. He can score just as well, if not better than Richards. They are the same age. If that is the criteria, than sure he should get the same money.

However, if I am a GM (and we all know I damn well should be) and an agent asks me to compare Gaborik to Richards when determining a salary I will wholeheartedly agree, and than offer Gaborik $1 million. First and foremost, Richards plays. He plays 82 games. He has missed two games in five years. That stuff is gold. You can’t put a price on your star being there every game. Gaborik has missed 50 games. I don’t care if insurance pays a portion of the contract if he gets hurt, it’s the fact that he is not there game in and game out, and will not be there game in and game out. He would be eating up equivalent salary cap dollars to not even play 88% of the games. Secondly, Gaborik’s career-high is 67. Richards has topped that three times. At worst – I would offer Gaborik a minimal salary, with bonuses for a) clearing 70 points, b) clearing 80 points, c) clearing 90 points, and d) beating Richards in points. If he hits all the criteria he can have $7.9 million.

Second point – McCabe is an idiot, and the Leafs are done. For every good decision JFJ has been making, he makes two stupid ones. Tomas Kaberle is the best defenseman in Toronto. Sure, he has a no-shooting clause, but he looks damn good out there at times and he is working on his shooting-deficiency problem. That being said, Kaberle is a little overpaid at four and a quarter.

Now - McCabe is an idiot for all the trash that came out of his mouth during the lockout. The brainwashed drivel that spewed forth with every interview he happily gave (because he had nothing better to do, being kicked off his team in Sweden, and all). Now, I’m all for speaking your mind, anyone who comes to DobberHockey will know that by now, but McCabe was not speaking his mind he was speaking the party line...and taking it too far. Despite this, I will grudgingly admit that he is brilliant for taking advantage of the Leaf management ineptness. Ownership still runs the show. Sundin, Domi, and Tucker have all made it clear that they would not be happy if McCabe got away. So what choice did JFJ have? He had one, he just chose not to take it. The choice needed balls, and he must be lacking in that department. Don’t sign McCabe. Sign somebody better for $5.75 million. Now the Leafs are tied into an absurd contract for FIVE years and they can’t even trade him, either. A no-trade clause! McCabe – good work! You bent them right over and you just went to town!

JFJ would not want anyone pointing this out, but I will anyway – McCabe has played for 10 seasons. Guess how many times he has reached 54 points? Once. Yes, that sure would be so tough to replace. He has been a plus-player just five times (last year he was NOT one). I will grant the fact that he is a Top 30 defenseman, but he is not Top 20. If he gets nearly $6 million, than I guess 20 defenseman should be getting over $6 million. And you just know their agents are going to ALL use McCabe as their ‘comparable’. Why? Because about 40 defensemen are ‘comparable’, that’s why.

As for the future of the Leafs – they better hope the salary cap goes up every year…a lot. Otherwise, they’ll have McCabe, Kaberle, and Sundin on the ice playing with a bunch of $800K players.

Got an opinion on this?  Email me.  If you agree with me, I might print it.  If you really piss me off, I'll definitely print it.  dobber@dobberhockey.com

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Sean Avery is Awesome

A starting goalie, a backup goalie, two scoring lines, a checking line, a power play quarterback, a stay at home defenseman…and a couple of Shawn Averys.  This a recipe that all NHL teams should follow. 

Whether you agree with him or not, he says what’s on his mind and it always makes for entertaining television and great reading material.  Everyone is familiar with his ‘French guys” comment in the preseason and how it is typical of them to be “running around (with their visors on) and playing tough and not backing anything up”.  Or how about this gem when he was accused early this season of diving – “How can a guy sitting in an office in New York determine if you dived or not by watching a tape…No question that this is a way (for the league) to do something to me. It has nothing to do with diving.” 

You can’t tell me that reading those articles did not hold your interest.  You would also be lying if you tell me that when next you see a headline with Avery’s name in it, you will not read it.  

His latest shenanigan was confronting broadcaster and fellow goaltender Brian Hayward, who had criticized him for running away from a confrontation with Todd Fedoruk in an earlier game.  He called Hayward an “embarrassment” and went on to say “you're the reason the league doesn't have a national television deal. You're a (terrible) announcer and you were a (terrible) player.” 

Hilarious!  Right or wrong, I don’t care.  It beats “we gave it 110%, all lines were rolling, we just have to play our game…” insert cliché here.  

I have a hard time believing that there are some do-gooders out there who wish Avery would keep his mouth shut.  They exist, though.  Go to the article on TSN’s website and peruse the “Your Call” section at the bottom of the article.  Comments such as “what a clown” , “this guy’s no good for hockey” , “this guy is an idiot” and “I am sooo embarrassed that Avery is Canadian”…there are dozens of comments such as these. 

These naysayers?  All clowns.  Now that Brett Hull is out of the NHL, Jeremy Roenick needs to pass the torch to someone.  Each NHL team needs a couple of Sean Averys.  Think of the quotes you would get to read almost daily!  Good or bad, it will stir fan interest, there’s not question.  A distraction in the dressing room?  I don’t buy it.  Afraid to drop the gloves after provoking someone?  What a bunch of garbage.  He drops the gloves often enough, despite his small frame.  It seems like Avery will only skate away from a fight during those occasions when doing so would drive his challenger absolutely crazy.  What better way to gain your team an edge?  Avery, along with Matthew Barnaby, is a player you would hate to play against, but would love to have on your team.  It’s his job. 

Embarrassed that Avery’s Canadian?  Has Canada really become this politically correct?  I hope not.  Let’s not discourage athletes from speaking their mind in the heat of the moment.  Newspapers and sports shows will become a lot more boring.

Got an opinion on this?  Email me.  If you agree with me, I might print it.  If you really piss me off, I'll definitely print it.  dobber@dobberhockey.com

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Revision - April 14th (oops) ...I'm going to back off a little bit.  I believe that players need to do as they are told by their coaches, which Avery apparently has a problem with.  I also believe in freedom of speech (and good quotes), which Avery is quite free with.  It is the "blabber mouth" Avery that I think should be on every NHL team, not the "selfish, uncoachable" Avery.  Just want to make the clear.  Obviously, Avery thinks he is a better player than he actually is (you have admire his arrogance)

 

 

Jason Allison

Jason Allison has been criticized by media and Leaf fans alike.  I’m going to defend him.  Has his play been stellar?  No.  Have mistakes been made?  Many times.  Does he look lazy out there?  Sometimes.  Okay, often.

Now that that’s out of the way, I submit to you the following.  If Jason Allison were the fastest skater in the NHL, he would be the leading scorer today.  He’s not a fast skater.  In fact, he is below average.  This makes him look lazy.  This costs him some chances.  This makes him look bad overall.  So why is he in the NHL?  Tremendous talent and top-notch hockey sense. 

More than one media source points to his minus-15 rating this season.  I would like to point to the fact that he spent the better part of three years sitting on a couch heading into this season.  Not working out.  With his condition, he was not even allowed to ride the exercise bike!  So, after a three-year absence, Allison ends October at a minus-9.  High salary and “he’s a professional” comments aside, a player can be excused for going minus-9 in his first month back after a three-year absence.  SO, with that understanding, Allison has gone minus-6 from November to March and is just under a point per game.  Not bad.

Allison’s numbers look sub-par when you include October, and compound that with his ‘lazy’ appearance on the ice (due to weak skating) and what you have, my friend, is a scapegoat.  It would be a mistake for Toronto to not bring this guy back next year.  He is still young, he would be cheap, and he will score at 20% more than a point per game next year.  He is the least of Toronto’s worries.  Incentives will likely see that he makes 4.5 million this year.  Next year, he will likely command a flat contract of about 3.5 million.  If the Leafs can pay Kaberle over four, they'll pay Allison 3.5.

Here are a few final points before I finish.  If you watch a Toronto hockey game going forward, watch Allison.  Watch where he puts himself.  Watch where he puts the puck.  Watch how much work it is to try and take the puck from him.  Then try and tell me he ‘sucks’.  Furthermore, there were two games in January where Toronto was hammered by Buffalo and Ottawa.  Allison was a minus-3 in one, and a minus-4 in the other.  Two horrible games in which, for the most part, every Leaf was horrible.  Erase those two games and all of October, and Allison is a plus player.  I know you can’t ‘erase’ games, and stats are stats, but with a full season under his belt Jason Allison will not have those types of games next year. 

In a hockey pool?  I guarantee you that the person that owns Allison is very sour on him.  You can grab him for a song this summer, and I recommend that you do so.  He is a 'Brett Hull-type' winger away from become an 'Adam Oates-type' setup man.  If Oates had Tucker and Ponikarovsky to play with in his prime, his career wouldn't have been half of what it was.  The only problem is - the Leafs will never get a 'Brett Hull-type' winger, so you won't see 120 points out of Allison.  But 90 or 95 will do.

I apologize for this, my second rant on a Leaf player.  Living in the Toronto area, I tend to hear too much on one team.  Any suggestions to get my take on a current issue, flip me an email and perhaps I'll do it.

Got an opinion on this?  Email me.  If you agree with me, I might print it.  If you really piss me off, I'll definitely print it. dobber@dobberhockey.com 

 

 

Tocchet's Big 'Gambling Ring'

Picture this if you will.  Say you're making $50,000 a year. Some of you make more, some make less, but for the sake of simple mathematics, let's use that as a benchmark that us 'normal' folk can relate to.  You're making 50K a year.  How many times in the past year did you bet ten bucks on a sporting event?  I'm talking Super Bowl, Rose Bowl, Final Four, World Juniors, etc.  How many times?  Three?  Four?  Is there anything wrong with that?  I submit that there is nothing wrong with that.  If you disagree, than stop reading this and carry on, because there is no sense in talking to you any further - I won't be able to change your mind.

Now imagine that you make $5,000,000 per year.  Hard to imagine, but bear with me.  That is 100 times the amount that you actually make (the aforementioned $50,000).  Suddenly, that $10 bet becomes $1000.  A thousand bucks does as much damage to your wallet if you are making five million a year, as ten bucks does when you make fifty grand.  Is that equally harmless?  I submit that it is.

In the case against Rick Tocchet (and possibly add up to a dozen NHLers and even Janet Gretzky to that list soon), the numbers being bandied about are $1.7 million dollars and OVER 1000 wagers.  Do the math.  That's $1700 per bet.  If I'm a multi-millionaire and I want to bet on the Super Bowl, what is wrong with me betting two grand on the game?  Hockey was apparently not a part of any bet, so what is the problem?  It's the against the law, that is the problem.  I don't think the Feds would jump in and make an arrest on a big 'gambling ring' involving thousands of ten dollar bets.  It's $1700.  This is where I think the law is ridiculous.  The law should refer to the percentage of your income being bet.  It is there to protect people who may have a problem and cannot afford it.  These people clearly can.  In this case, the law is wrong.  I will go one step further and say that the law is stupid.  If I have 2.5 million in my bank account, and I want to bet $2000, why should that be a problem?  That is 0.08% of my liquid assets.  Not even one percent.

Now the FBI is involved?  What a joke.  Looking for fame, methinks.  The law needs to be changed to better serve the purpose it is meant to serve.  Do you really think anyone involved are bad people for this?

Let me be clear: I say this assuming that hockey was not bet on, and inside information about hockey was not given, and that any ties to organized crime is only in passing (i.e. just knowing a guy and having suspicions that he MAY be a part of a criminal organization doesn't cut it.  If you know for a FACT that he is involved in organized crime and you are dealing with him, then that is not something I condone).  Those are my two assumptions and if they are incorrect then my stance on this changes.  Simple, straight gambling on non-hockey sports, fine by me.

Got an opinion on this?  Email me.  If you agree with me, I might print it.  If you really piss me off, I'll definitely print it.  dobber@dobberhockey.com

 

 

 

Hot-dogging in the NHL

I am what you call a 'poor sport'.  Yes, I give credit where credit is due.  If someone beats me, I shake their hand no matter how pissed off I am inside.  I also gladly take the taunts and insults, no matter how much they drive me nuts.  Why?  Because when I win - watch out!  I want to playfully ride people when I beat them.  I want the bragging rights I deserve until the next time we play and I lose.  I understand that if I get skunked (embarrassed badly) I will never live it down because the guys won't let me.  As long as you can take what you give - have at 'er.  This relates to hockey pools as well - I love poking fun at the guys in my keeper league, and love it when they give it right back.

I would love nothing more than to score a goal in front of thousands of fans, throw my glove in the air, aim at it with my hockey stick and pretend to shoot it down.  (remember that Selanne goal in his rookie year?)  I would love to have a rivalry with another top-notch player.  Let me tell you - if that player was sent to the box and I scored on the ensuing powerplay not only would I point at him sitting in the box, but I would mail him the video clip of me doing it so he could watch it again!  The more I get under somebody's skin, the more I will do it.

This is obviously where Don Cherry and I part ways.  Although I found his "break his arm" comment pretty funny, hot-dogging is fun to do. If you are having a tough game, losing 8-1, and the other team humiliates you with trash talk and hot-dogging, then I guess next time you better not lose so badly.

I am in agreement with Adam Proteau of The Hockey News - Ovechkin and Kovalchuk (and their antics) are great for the NHL.

Got an opinion on this?  Email me.  If you agree with me, I might print it.  If you really piss me off, I'll definitely print it.  dobber@dobberhockey.com

 

 

Bertuzzi on Canada's Olympic Team

Let me start off by saying that Todd Bertuzzi should not be on Canada's Olympic hockey team.  No, not because the Steve Moore mugging, but because of his play.  You see - Todd Bertuzzi hit Steve Moore from behind and knocked him to the ice, falling on him in the process and was the key cause of Moore suffering three broken (or cracked) vertebrae.  Other players jumped on Moore as well, adding more weight, but the fact of the matter is that Moore would be playing if Bertuzzi left him alone.  That being said, the courts have found Bertuzzi guilty, and punished him accordingly.  The NHL found him guilty, and punished him accordingly.  Now - whether you agree with the punishment or not (and for the record, I certainly do not)  - Bertuzzi served (or is serving) his 'punishment'.  The courts didn't add a 'but you can't play in the Olympics' clause.  Bettman didn't say he could come back to the NHL 'but not the Olympics'.  This is where the bullshit, crybaby media really gets to me sometimes.  WHAT DID YOU EXPECT?  It was no secret that Bertuzzi was being strongly considered for this team, where was all the uproar then?  Are you telling me that over the last three months, the idiots that write opinion columns in newspapers across Canada could not mentally prepare for his inclusion on the team?  They couldn't trash Team Canada's suits for even considering the idea two months ago?  I am in shock at the sudden uproar, as if it was all a big surprise!  Give it a rest!  If Bertuzzi is legally allowed to enter Italy with his criminal record, and an assault charge is not historically a reason for exclusion in the participation of the Olympic Games, then DROP IT.

Keep your focus on what really matters - his inclusion based on merit.  Brendan Shanahan has more points, far more goals, and similar penalty minute totals to Bertuzzi.  Furthermore, he has far more international experience.  To say nothing of his Stanley Cup rings.  Shanahan is also a plus-5.  Bertuzzi is minus-4.  Bertuzzi did not earn this spot.  Shanahan did.  While I'm at it, Spezza should have been on the Olympic squad, Crosby on the taxi squad, and Shane Doan off the team altogether!

Regardless, Canada will still likely win the gold medal, so none of these inclusions/exclusions makes a difference.  However, if there is going to be an uproar - let's have an uproar over the right things, okay?

One more thing about Todd Bertuzzi.  If I'm Todd, I do the following: I hold a press conference and announce that I am stepping down from my position on the team.  I proclaim my pride in my country, and how my appointment to the team is proving a distraction to the big picture.  I ask for Steve Moore's forgiveness, as well as my country's.  I then ask that I be considered for a 2010 appointment, without controversy, if I 'promise to be good'.

Got an opinion on this?  Email me.  If you agree with me, I might print it.  If you really piss me off, I'll definitely print it.  dobber@dobberhockey.com

 

 

Ted Nolan

Hockey politics...good ol' hockey politics.  How does a guy win the coach of the year one year, and is never heard from again.  Who did Ted Nolan sleep with?  Bettman's wife?  Muckler's daughter?  Something fishy was and still is happening here.   I fail to understand this, and I also don't believe that a lot of teams out there truly want to win.  Do you truly want to win so badly that you hire an announcer to coach your team (Eddie Olczyk)?  Do you truly want to win so badly that Gerard Gallant is your guy?  Randy Carlyle?  What could a Ted Nolan do for those teams?

I don't buy the bullshit theory that Nolan is a "GM-killer".  Who cares if he is?  He's not the first coach - right Mike Keenan?  Nolan did SOMETHING.  Something that the fans and media aren't to know about.  Something behind the scenes.  The NHL and the NHL owners and management just expect the fans to shut up and accept it, and eventually forget about it.  Eventually, we did.

Nolan's banishment from the NHL is beyond highly suspicious.  He did something, mark my words.  He deserves to coach and he's not coaching.  You be the judge.

Got an opinion on this?  Email me.  If you agree with me, I might print it.  If you really piss me off, I'll definitely print it.  dobber@dobberhockey.com

 

 

More on (Moron?) the “new” NHL…

A letter in the latest issue of The Hockey News, and another idiot is writing about his problem with the ‘new’ NHL.  He is a season ticket holder in Philadelphia, and he doesn’t plan to renew next year unless things change.

So basically, because there is only fighting on average once every two games instead of once every game, you plan to give up your season tickets?  Ten bucks says you don’t!  You’re at the rink for two and a half hours, and because 60 seconds of two players holding each other’s jerseys and dancing around is not quite seen as frequently, your entire experience is ruined? 

Get bent!  

Now, I’m hardly against fighting – I enjoy watching fights when they are good (which is rare, since the best fighters really know how to stop the other guy from throwing a punch, which results in the aforementioned dancing) – but it will never influence any decision I have on whether to watch a game.

Got an opinion on this?  Email me.  If you agree with me, I might print it.  If you really piss me off, I'll definitely print it.  dobber@dobberhockey.com

 

 

Ed Belfour

Meaning no disrespect to one of the better goaltenders of the past two decades, but Eddie Belfour is way overpaid and definitely on the decline.  Does he still make great saves?  Yes.  Does he sometimes steal the odd game?  Yes.  Does he sometimes keep his team in the game when they don't deserve to be?  Yes.

I hate reading Leaf articles that tout his triumphs from the previous night.  I hate hearing semi-hockey fans tell me how he saved the day for Toronto.  Why?  Because there are 20 other goaltenders in the NHL that I would answer "yes" to those same three questions above!  18 of them make less money the Belfour!  Does he make great saves?  Yes - but what's the point if he lets in softy in the same game?  Does he sometimes steal the odd game?  Sure - maybe two or three of them this year - but I can name 20 goalies in this league (and a couple of goalies in other leagues) that would have stolen four or five! Does he sometimes keep his team in the game when they don't deserve to be?  Yes - but THAT'S HIS JOB.  If, by the end of the year, Belfour keeps the Leafs in ten games that they don't deserve to be in - he'd still be about ten behind a dozen other goaltenders.  

Four and half million dollars.  He's laughing all the way to the bank.  When they re-signed him before the lockout and gave him his multi-million dollar signing bonus, they could have had Kevin Weekes for two million.  I'm not saying Weekes is that great, I'm saying Belfour is no better.  Do you know why GM Ferguson didn't buy him out?  Because, combined with that signing bonus, Belfour would have been paid over seven million dollars to play ZERO games!  It was a pride thing - that is why he was not bought out.  Ferguson didn't want to look bad.  As for Belfour...

How does he sleep at night?  

"On a big pile of money, with many beautiful women." The Simpsons

REBUTTAL

Got an opinion on this?  Email me.  If you agree with me, I might print it.  If you really piss me off, I'll definitely print it.  dobber@dobberhockey.com

 

 

Ted Saskin and the whole NHLPA fiasco...

I'm sorry that I've previously painted the players with the same big brush by calling them sheep.  They are really getting screwed here.  I'm not saying Saskin is not the right man for the job, in fact I found him to be quite intelligent during the lockout and believe that he and Ted Daly are the ones that settled the lockout.  Although, now that I'm rambling on, he did continue to stubbornly insist that owners were in the wrong, the Levitt report was wrong, etc.  

But I digress.  If he were a man of honor, he would take a 24% pay cut like the people he represents.  What does he have on Linden to warrant such blind support?  The man is making two million dollars!  If he were a man of honor, he would slap an Interim tag on himself for one year and let the system follow the proper course.  I don't care if he is the nicest person in the world and the number one most qualified person for the position - he did not follow the player's constitution, and that is just wrong.  It's just a shame that only 15% of the players cared enough about the process to vote against him.

Got an opinion on this?  Email me.  If you agree with me, I might print it.  If you really piss me off, I'll definitely print it.  dobber@dobberhockey.com

 

 

The "new" NHL...

I'm reading a lot of opinions across the Internet or in newspapers about the "new" NHL.  Most of which are in favor of the new rules and the new style, but occasionally I come across an item from someone complaining about it.  These babies profess to be old-time fans in favor of "old-time" hockey.  These whiners have a problem with the shootout, and feel it is the NHL catering to the "new" fan.  These sucks complain that the hitting is gone, and the fighting is gone, and they're not paying to see figure skating.  Another big complaint: "there's too many penalties", or my favorite: "anyone is allowed in front of the net now" (I'm looking right at you Don Cherry)

Regarding the shootout: ending a game with a shootout does not prove which team is better.  Teams should play until they either drop, or they score.  BUT...it is entertaining, it does add to the excitement, and who gives a shit how a regular season game ends?  Last NHL season, if your team is still tied after a five-minute overtime, it would be called a "tie".  So why don't all you babies who are against the shootout just turn off your TV after the overtime is played, and convince yourselves that your team "tied" okay?  Me, I'll watch the shootout and I don't care if it's a circus sideshow to a serious game.  As long as they don't touch the playoffs that way I...DON'T...CARE.  So get over it.  Your argument about the shootout affecting the standings at the end of the season is bunk.  So your team who goes one and nine in shootouts is edged out of the playoffs by a team that goes nine and one?  I have some newsflashes for you: 1) The fact that your team is so shitty it was on the edge of playoff contention in the first place tells me that it wasn't winning any Cups anyway.  2) The coach of your team is an idiot for not finding the right combination of players to score in a shootout.  How difficult an aspect of the coaching position is that particular strategy anyway?  3) The GM of your team is an idiot for not addressing the problem once the team went one and five in it's first six shootouts.  

Regarding the hitting: I don't know what games you are watching, but when hits occur, they are bigger on average than they've been in years.  It's amazing how much momentum a player has when nobody is holding on to him.  You know what?  Hitting will only get bigger and better as players remember the lost art.  And yes, it is a lost art.  That game you have been watching for the last ten years sucked that skill out of most players (and yes, there are exceptions so don't send me emails about Scott Stevens, etc.)

Regarding too many penalties: if your complaint is the whistles - I've never seen such a free-flowing game!  The lack of icings, two-line passes, and offsides more than makes up for the extra penalty whistles.  My favorite part of hockey?  The art of the powerplay.  Just watching these superstars set up on the powerplay, and pass the puck around, waiting for the perfect opportunity...with the exception of breakaways and two-on-ones there is nothing I love to see more.

Regarding freedom in front of the net: I grant you this complaint, but you take this one little thing as a small price to pay for the other good things that have been added.

Regarding fighting: I like watching fights as much as the next guy.  I've only seen two or three live this entire season so far, and I haven't missed them.  90% of them are just two tough guys grabbing each other's jerseys and dancing anyway.  You morons that compare the new NHL to figure skating - what do you call most of the fights we've been seeing since the mid-nineties?  J. Lo couldn't have choreographed better dances.

Got an opinion on this?  Email me.  If you agree with me, I might print it.  If you really piss me off, I'll definitely print it.  dobber@dobberhockey.com