Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pain Game - Devils 3 Ottawa 1

It was a battlefield out there on the ice tonight.

And not because it was overly physical, but because Senators were dropping to the ice clutching various body parts at regular intervals.

There is not much to talk about in this loss other than the injuries that occurred before and during the game.

Since the win over Washington, we've learned that Pascal Leclaire has a broken jaw, Anton Volchenkov is still not ready to return, Mike Fisher hurt himself during practice and Alexei Kovalev is still in Russia attending to family matters.

Then they dropped the puck.

Chris Neil took a big hit from Andrew Peters and left with what looks like a charley horse or, worse, a knee injury. He did not return and that, combined with losing Fisher, is a big blow to the Senators physical presence.

Then Alex Picard took a hit (again from Peters) along the boards and fell awkwardly, forcing him to leave (but he returned in the third). Peter Regin took a puck in the face and had to return with a face shield. As if that wasn't enough, Matt Carkner took a Patrick Elias slapshot off the hand near the end of the game and immediately went to the locker room after unsuccessfully trying to pick up his stick with the damaged digits.

Not good news if you're an Ottawa fan. The end of the 4 game win streak is almost inconsequential compared to the possible loss of both Neil and Carkner going forward.

As for the positives, the Senators played well considering the circumstances and were in a position to get a point right up until the last minute of the game. Brian Elliott was strong and looks like he will be able to at least give the Senators a chance every game while Leclaire is on the mend.

Jesse Winchester and Ryan Shannon continued to play well, especially Winchester who seems to be close to where he was before he got injured in training camp. He's the best Senator along the boards since the days of Peter Schaefer and consistently makes nifty plays to give his line chances to score.

The good news for the Senators is that they get right back to it tomorrow night against Antoine Vermette and the Columbus Blue Jackets for a chance to at least keep their home win streak alive.

Black Aces Senators 3 Stars

1. Jesse Winchester
2. Milan Michalek
3. Daniel Alfredsson


I've been a member of the NHLFA (National Hockey League's Fan Association) for a little over two years now and occasionally partake in surveys and receive newsletters and the like. Nothing too onerous but initially, I liked the idea of the fans loosely organizing to try and influence some of the decision making of the NHL.

Then I got this ridiculous e-mail the other day from the NHLFA explaining that they are demanding Gary Bettman resign by New Years Day.

After I finished laughing for two minutes, I only felt pity for the NHLFA for forcing themselves into this unwinnable, boneheaded and completely unnecessary campaign that will ultimately make them completely irrelevant and a laughingstock at the league's head office. Read the email of their mission statement below:

"We recently solicited feedback from you and determined that the NHLFA's priorities for this season are twofold. American fans want better access to televised games and Canadian fans want Gary Bettman replaced as commissioner. We believe that if the Canadians objective is achieved, the Americans objective will be reached sooner.

A few of our Members have indicated that they do not support the effort to remove Bettman from office, however, this contingent is small. Many times over the years coordinating the NHLFA, we have found ourselves advocating issues that do not necessarily align with our personal beliefs. Nonetheless, we continue to push the opinions of the majority of our Members, understanding that we are united for a larger cause.

We subsequently asked you to suggest ideas that could help in our effort to have Bettman replaced as commissioner. Some suggested boycotting games, but that is not realistic with our current numbers.. Others suggested protests. Many Members suggested a coordinated writing campaign towards the league's board of governors. Specific details of our plans will be unveiled in early January if Bettman has not already resigned by that time. An open letter to Bettman was posted on The Hockey News website (http://www.thehockeynews.com/articles/29528-Jim-Boones-Blog-An-open-letter-to-Gary-Bettman.html) this week asking Bettman to resign before January 1, 2010.

Jim Boone
Jim Spendlove
(spendlove@nhlfa.com) "

This is the NHLFA's plan going forward as an organization? To demand Gary Bettman resign by sundown? Is this a John Wayne movie?

For one, it will never happen. No chance in hell.

Bettman has never been more popular among the Board Of Governors. They are reaping the very obvious rewards of Bettman breaking the players union to the point that they barely even exist as a functioning organization. Bettman could probably write himself a lifetime contract and 75 percent of the board would sign it.

Two, the NHLFA is way overestimating their influence and are simply making fools of themselves here. Most fans don't even know they exist. You'd think that the organization would aspire towards smaller goals that are somewhat achievable and that would actually benefit fans in some way. Like maybe lobby their local networks and newspapers to increase their coverage of NHL games or perhaps push for the NHL to set aside some seating for financially strapped fans so they can enjoy a live hockey game once a season. Whatever. There's plenty of positive things for an organization like this to do.

But no, the NHLFA is puffing out their puny little chests and demanding a showdown with the big guy. And for what reason? They don't even state the reasons why. They just want him gone.

It's too bad because they won't be taken seriously going forward as a partner with the league and that hurts all fans. If you want to be a partner, why are you declaring an unwinnable war?

No doubt the voting was led by elitist and reactionary Canadian hockey snobs who think the NHL should be a tiny regional league like the CFL and oppose any American influence on the game whatsoever.

The NHLFA should know better and use their heads to come up with some kind of campaign that at least has a chance to be taken seriously.


Anonymous said...

I gotta agree with you on the NHLFA.

I read the letter on the Hockey News site, and it comes off as pretty amateurish.

First off, Bettman's employers (the owners) are happy with him. But, more importantly, I don't think that Jim Boone had any compelling arguments. And, I really tried to read the letter with an open mind. He also didn't provide any solutions to his complaints.

For American fans who want more games, get NHL Center Ice or Gamecenter Live. Realistically, there won't be much more TV coverage unless the audience numbers grow. The league could do a better job at selling the game, but hockey is not ingrained in American culture. American fans have shown that they'll support a winner, but that's about it.

As for Canadian fans, the message has been consistent for years. The message is always communicated that Bettman is not doing a good job. The question is, what specifically would these people change.

Often this Canadian contingent suggests that there should be more teams in Canada. I think this will happen eventually. But, my belief is that Bettman wants to get maximum value for his owners, his employers. He's not going to gift an expansion franchise to someone so that they can print money for themselves.

I think he wants to fill out his US footprint first. He'll charge as much as he can. Then he'll move to Canada and charge more, because he can.

The only way franchises get moved to Canada, is if Winnipeg or Quebec want in. I think the fact that they lost franchises carries some weight. Just my opinion.

At this point, it doesn't bother me much that he is not a "hockey guy". It used to, but not now. It's not essential to his role.

I think the NHL needs a non hockey guy to handle supplementary discipline. Someone who can establish clear guidelines for suspension and then enforce them, is needed. The guy might mess up a bit, but at least clarity will be established. After that, a hockey guy can come in and make adjustments, if needed.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting, nice post