Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Around The League ... Sparta Goes Under ... Monument Smashed In Bytown ... Nonis Gets Canned For Boring Hockey ....

As I noted in my previous post below, the Senators pre-game ceremony was an embarrassing joke that is now reaping in the laughs across the league. Here's the video proof.

One detail I did not notice is that fans at the game were given little swords as they came into the building to go along with the "Sparta" theme. A caller went on the morning show on Team 1200 and said that fans had no idea what to do with these swords and most of them ended up on the floor almost immediately. The caller went on to say that maybe the organization wanted fans to do the Atlanta Brave "tomahawk chop" with the swords which everyone knows is the lamest thing ever invented (and completely racist).

What ever happened to the old-fashioned tradition of handing out white or red towels so the fans can wave them? Why does the organization think it has to resort to lame gimmicks to get the fans in Ottawa excited for a playoff game? All they have to do is turn the lights on and pop some popcorn. That's all.

Instead the fans get some blowhard in a WWE costume screaming at centre ice with a wonky microphone and his "speech" taped inside his shield for the nation to see.

Did Roy Mlakar really give his OK to this? If so, this guy needs a vacation. Possibly a permanent one.

Here's some advice: Bring back the Senators theme song. Play highlights of last year's Cup run to inspire the fans. Set off a few fireworks. Then let them play. The crowd will take care of the rest.


Somebody made the effort to go down to Gladstone and Bay to completely demolish the monument that marked the site of Dey's Arena where the Senators won their first Stanley Cup in 1903. The granite was smashed and the plaque stolen where it was attached to a laundromat that now occupies that corner where the historic building once stood.

I used to frequent that laundromat and live in that neighborhood. Let's just say I'm not surprised something like this happened. There are plans to replace it so the prostitutes and the crackheads will still be able to learn something about the city's history.


David Nonis was fired by the Vancouver Canucks amid speculation that Anaheim GM Brian Burke might be making his way back up the coast to take over the operation. Burke's wife works in Vancouver and has been making the commute for a couple of years now.
I tend to agree with James Mirtle that this was a good move on the part of the Canucks. Mirtle points out that besides the one great trade that Nonis made (Bertuzzi etc. for Luongo), he hasn't exactly improved the team through his free-agent signings or trades.
But the sore point for me was the way the Canucks morphed from a high-tempo, exciting team into the perhaps the most boring team in the league. Nonis hired Alain Vigneault knowing full well that the hockey would be dull and in the end, the Canucks didn't win anything anyways.
There are a lot of columnists coming to the defence of Nonis, in particular Ian MacIntyre who points out that the Canucks have probably lost the opportunity to sign Swedish prospect Fabian Brunnstrom because Nonis was the architect of the impending deal. Almost every team in the league is trying to sign this guy and with Nonis now canned, they may get a second chance (including the Senators who are said to have pursued Brunnstrom hard).

"The irony is Nonis hoarded his key assets and managed his payroll well enough this season that, for the first time, he had players to trade and money to spend on free agents this summer in order to pursue the two or three key forwards the Canucks needed."

Tony Gallagher of the Province whole heartedly applauds the move, citing boring hockey as one of the primary reasons for Nonis's firing:

It's one thing to lose, but quite another to lose in boring fashion. And if there is one thing an owner cannot have, it's watching his customers fail to be entertained, and on many nights this season that was certainly the case, this team often excruciatingly boring even on nights when they won. ...

When you think about it, the Canucks are the only team in Canada that plays a system that made scoring goals a pretty difficult task, particularly with the woeful quality of forwards Nonis had assembled and placed in the care of now dangling coach Alain Vigneault.


Hugh Adami of the Ottawa Citizen takes the game way too seriously when he suggests that the NHL should try to get Sean Avery out of the league altogether. Adami claims that Avery is bringing the league into "disrepute" with his antics, especially the circus act he unveiled when trying to screen Martin Brodeur last game. The league changed the rule overnight to allow the refs to call an unsportsmanlike penalty in such a scenario.

I give kudos to Avery for trying something new. It was hilarious and I know that anytime Avery is on the ice, I'm watching. The league can use at least ten more guys with Avery's personality.

What is it with Ottawa sportswriters anyways? These guys are the new morality police of the NHL. If you're not white bread and butter, you're a menace. Let the game breathe for chrissakes.

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