Monday, October 22, 2007

 

Flames-Sharks Game Day

(Updated at bottom)

**You ever read Don Cherry's 1983 biography "Grapes: A Vintage View of Hockey"? Besides being notable as the most recent thing of Stan Fischler's worth reading, there are plenty of great anecdotes about the old days. I was reminded of one of them this morning: his description of every conversation he had with NHL President Clarence Campbell. I don't have the book handy, so I'll paraphrase, but this is pretty close:
Cherry: [answers phone] Hello?
Campbell: Campbell here. Mr. Cherry, explain your actions of Saturday night.
Cherry: Well, I'm in the same lane, backchecking, looking at Huselius. I wasn't looking at Moss. I'm sure it looked like a head shot, but if I was really trying to hurt him, I would have put my elbow up or my shoulder. His jaw hit me. He ran into me.
Campbell: Unacceptable. [click]

Look: reducing hits to the head in the NHL is not my crusade. I'm quite agnostic on issues of player safety; I think most of the data on injuries sucks (where it exists at all), and I just have zero interest in being yet another guy who reacts to every injury with, "When is the NHL going to come out of the dark ages and [mandate visors / get serious about punishing acts of X / insist that players do up their helmets properly / etc.] before someone gets killed?"

My two things are: 1) My basic sense of fairness tells me that when one player injures another in an act that's not otherwise within the rules, he should have to pay a price, and 2) I'd like to be able to understand how supplementary discipline is determined, even if I don't agree with the specific judgement on which that determination is made.

The story early this season is that while the NHL has not eliminated subjectivity from discipline (and has no intention of doing so), they did identify some criteria on which to judge hits to the head. This is from the Downie presser, cleaned up a tad (I can't find the original NHL release):
Specifically the following factors were identified as being relevant to whether a player should be subject to supplemental discipline when a hit to an opponent's head is involved:

1. When a player targets an opponent's head.
2. When a player launches himself by leaving his feet to hit a player in the head area.
3. When the hit to the head is delivered to an unsuspecting opponent.
4. The timing/lateness of the hit.

An additional factor in considering whether discipline is appropriate is whether the player is a repeat offender. When any or all of these factors combine to cause an injury to an opponent, it was agreed that a player would be subject to supplemental discipline in the form of a game suspension. When all or substantially all of the factors are involved, it is clear that the suspension should be more severe.

This all seems rather straightforward. I'm inclined to believe Torres when he says he had no intention of hurting Moss (though that he didn't see him, or the contact was entirely accidental, is dubious). Assuming Campbell does too, and he does not consider the Williams & Michalek hits, you still have #3 + an injury = a suspension, presumably a short one (1-2 games?). Developing, possibly before I'm done this post. [UPDATE: sure enough, Moss skated this morning and will dress tonight pending a doctor's re-evaluation.]

**As you can tell, I've been enjoying Bruce Dowbiggin lately. We almost always part ways in our assessments of the Flames, but otherwise I find him to be right a lot. In today's I Don't Like Mondays, he has what should be the final word on Gord Miller emailing Bill Daly for source management purposes (see item #2 under Mute The Press).

**Hope you've followed Orland Kurtenblog to its new home at the Vancouver Province. Almost every post is worth a howl; I liked Kings-Canucks Preview If This Were 20 Years Ago.
Scoring was a big problem for the Canucks throughout most of last year. Vancouver notched just 282 goals in 80 games, just over three-and-a-half per game.

**Flames host Sharks, 7PM MT on RSN West. Can the Flames stop Jeremy Roenick?

Looks like Mark Smith will be back in the lineup for Wayne Primeau, who is out for many weeks with a high ankle sprain. I'd say Smith has ~ "not very long" to prove his worth. He was picked up as a veteran grinder, but the results so far have been the proverbial suck. Chiefly, he has spent 7:02 on the PK so far this year, during which the Flames have given up 4 goals. That is epic in its awfulness.

I've read the same rumours as you about Pat Quinn maybe going to Atlanta, but if I was advising him, I'd tell him to decline, and then in a few weeks when Ron Wilson gets fired, accept the Sharks HC job. If the Sharks are still being accused of being outhustled, and lacking that certain something -- and they are -- then it seems like a prime example of a team that, regardless of whether the message is right or wrong, needs to start hearing it from someone else. I'd trust Quinn more than any other candidate to adapt to what he has, as opposed to a Systems Coach who would start from scratch.

What am I saying? Forget all this, I want the Sharks to lose in the 2nd round again. I'd also like them to lose tonight. Perhaps Nolan could score in his 1000th NHL game; I'd also like to see Tanguay (3rd among Flames forwards in Shots) get on the board and shut up the He Needs To Start Shooting More crowd. 2-1, 3-2, 4-3, something like that, but yes, a win. Go Flames.

UPDATE: Oilers' Torres fined; avoids suspension.

Whatever -- again, the headshots thing is not my crusade. I do wish that I could take Colin Campbell's carefully selected, spelled-out-in-a-news-release words at face value, though. I don't see the provision for a fine in his explanation (linked & excerpted above), and whether the hit was intentional or not seems to be covered by criteria #1 & #2. Is this hit going to be included in next summer's video to the teams, as an example of a head shot that does not warrant a suspension? The TSN story still says "sources say"; maybe Campbell will reveal his thought process in the official release.

AND WHILE I'M HERE: the site is getting hits today from forums at edmontonoilers.com, HF Oilers, calgarypuck, and hockeybuzz -- all related to the MacT-Staios kerfuffle I passed on word of yesterday.

It still amazes me that, for the number of people who read the newspapers online, absolutely no one reads the blogs there. I had nothing to add, I just linked to and excerpted from the Herald's Flames Insider blog. And yet on all these message boards, there's a link to this site, and a couple of them even had the note ~ "not sure how reliable this source is". Er, followed by lots of calls for MacT's head.

Comments:

You can hear the smirk in Dowbiggin's columns; which a)makes him a good writer because he's found his 'voice' and b) an a$$hole because he's always smirking. Whenever I find myself on the same side of any issue Bruce pontificates about, I immediately search my reasoning for the likely fault. He's just one of those guys thats turns Mr. Hand into Mr. Fist.
 


1) My basic sense of fairness tells me that when one player injures another in an act that's not otherwise within the rules,

And if Torres had been hurt by the interference Moss was running? And how come no complaining about the fact Moss' helmet wasn't strapped on tight, and was half-way off before he hit the ice? It's not a hill I'm going to die on, but I still don't see this as anything other than Guy A doing an honest pursuit of the puck, Guy B intentionally putting himself in the way so as to prevent Guy A from getting to the puck, and then Guy B's coach whining because Guy B and Guy A bumped into each other, and Guy B ended up on the losing end of contact he initiated.


Is there video of any of this, by the way? I'm just reconstructing this all in my mind, and I have to admit, I has well into the spirits by that point of the evening.
 


Just go to CBC.ca and watch the game. If you remember at approximately what point that happened, you should be able to skip to it.
 


Is there video of any of this, by the way?

I think the highlights on tsn capture it.
 


By the way, the NHL has decided Torres' hit was dirty -- they fined him.

But apparently being a repeat offender with yet another dirty hit injuring yet another player means a fine only, no suspension.
 


Yes, go to CBC.ca, you can find the game under Video, HNIC Complete Games. Start watching at about 89:30.

That must have been some kind of moonshine, Andy, as characterizing what Moss was doing as a "pick" is so wrong there's not even a word for it. Watch it. There's no Moss interference there, he's breaking to the net. He just happens to be between Torres and Huselius. And he hadn't looked in Torres' direction in 10 seconds, he had no idea he was there.

Also, Torres did lift his shoulder up a bit. It wasn't especially vicious, but there's no way it was accidental.
 


What the hell is with TSN? The audio just keeps playing, despite the fact I've shut down the window and the page. Now I have about six audio streams playing over top of each other, despite doing nothing other than click play. Terrible.

Still don't see the big deal. And I definitely didn't see a shoulder lift. I'm just as guilty of bias as everyone else on this site, but to me it just looks like a normal collision with a fluke consequence.
 


Same here Andy. No idea why anyone thought it was worthy of suspension. As Tyler noted in comments to Matt's other post on the issue, the NHL hasn't made shoulder to head hits illegal. Targeting the head and dangerous or flagrant are the focus.

The unsuspecting player angle likely doesn't come into play by itself. Makes more sense that it's an aggravating aspect on a hit otherwise deemed over the line (i.e. it factored in Downie's suspension since...but obviously wasn't the only reason for Downie's supplementary discipline). Not sure this is the perfect example, so anyone with legal experience feel free to correct me....but here goes: a gun by itself isn't necessarily illegal. Commit a crime, such as robbing a bank, and you're going to be charged. Commit that same crime with a gun, and the charges are more severe.

Just saying that if you're hinging your suspension argument on the fact Moss was unsuspecting, you're possibly misinterpreting the league's stance.

Torres didn't really seem to see Moss, so I don't know how it can argued he deserved suspension. Well, actually I do know how. You get Mike Keenan in front of a camera, and the conspiracies start flowing. Falmes fans jump on board and start inventing things like a shoulder lift, etc.

It was a fluke play, nothing more. If that one warrants a suspension, then Pouliot should have received one for running over Cogs a couple games ago. Sometimes players collide. Not entirely on purpose. It happens.

And for those that think I'm just saying that because I'm an Oilers fan, let me point to the hit on Roy in the pre-season. Roy was nailed from behind into the boards, but I posted on Mirtle's site that no suspension was warranted (Roy clearly saw the Canuck coming, and turned into the boards). Point is, I don't blindly post that big hits on Oilers should get a suspension.

BTW, tonight's Falmes game will be on Sportsnet HD. Yep, a regional HD game. Woo hoo! It's only a matter of time until the same happens for Oiler games!

Of course judging by the Falmes fans' acuity of vision demonstrated by their reaction to the Torres hit, I'm thinking the HD for tonight's game will be lost on them.
 


In case somebody wants some proof or something...
Flames HD on Sportsnet.
Oilers HD on Sportsnet.

The Flames link is from a banner on their site, while the Oiler page probably isn't live yet (used some significant brain power to deduce that link on my own...).

In the case of cable, in all likelihood an alternate channel won't be needed. Shaw (or whoever) can switch from the regular Sportsnet HD feed to the regional HD feed. Channel wouldn't change (213 in Edmonton and Calgary). Only hitch is if the national feed stays live and is carrying something interesting as well...then a second channel is needed for that content.

Anyway, have fun watching tonight. With HD, even I can stomach watching the Falmes...barely. Those new jerseys are hideous.

Go Sharks! (hockey pool factors have me interested in this one...Go Joe!)
 


So, can we officially call hits that cause concussions that aren't suspension-worthy the Torres Exceptions?
 


Why? Torres is not even the first player this season to get a fine rather than a suspension.
 


BTW, you should drop the concussion allegation if Moss is back already. Moss would be out a minimum of one week if it was a concussion (league or PA rules I think).
 


So, can we officially call hits that cause concussions that aren't suspension-worthy the Torres Exceptions?

How about we call the curious inability to see a player directly in your line of view the "Torres blindspot"?
 


Or when players on the same team collide, we'll dub that the "Metrognome Paradox".® Teammates can't collide because they're in plain view, and all collisions are intentional. Yet it happens. Hmmm. That's a whopper of a paradox you've got there. You should be proud.

All this plain view references of course brings up eye sight again, and the so-called "shoulder lift". Whatever.
 


Because your line of view clearly includes the back of your helmet.
 


This also brings to mind the Brophy Exception: NHLers are perfectly capable of missing hits, shots, passes, punches, and swung sticks...until it comes to clearing the puck off the glass. Then NHLers should never miss and accidentally put it over, because why the hell would they possibly? They're NHLers!

Metrognome sounds a lot like Brophy in this case, truth be told.
 


So, can we officially call hits that cause concussions that aren't suspension-worthy the Torres Exceptions?

That is actually pretty damn good, except I know there's not a chance in hell you'd support suspensions for hits just because they cause concussions.

How about we call the curious inability to see a player directly in your line of view the "Torres blindspot"?

Also awesome. I'd support it, so long as we call a two minute tripping penalty that leads to a fine "The Laws of Mosses."
 


Okay, this is wicked. Tons of new material for the new glossary (which I need to get on).
 


What are we going to call pussies who get a concussion when you breathe on them?
 


It still amazes me that, for the number of people who read the newspapers online, absolutely no one reads the blogs there. I had nothing to add, I just linked to and excerpted from the Herald's Flames Insider blog. And yet on all these message boards, there's a link to this site, and a couple of them even had the note ~ "not sure how reliable this source is". Er, followed by lots of calls for MacT's head.

In one of those forum, someone wonders why you brought up the part about the "lady friend", Matt. I guess they missed the 1000 word article about it in the Edmonton Journalthis summer. So, shame on you.
 


What are we going to call pussies who get a concussion when you breathe on them?

Brett Lindros?



Too soon?
 


What are we going to call pussies who get a concussion when you breathe on them?

Corey Perry plus a concussion.
 


...not a chance in hell you'd support suspensions for hits just because they cause concussions

I don't think that's correct; while I reserve judgement until I see any specific proposal, I thought I was relatively clear that I don't have any strong opinions about this, I just want to be able to understand how the discipline is doled out.

Also, I like Metrognome's Torres Blindspot. My twist on that would be a twist on X-ray vision called Torres Vision: an ability to see the puck carrier to the exclusion of all human barriers.
 


Was that Phaneuf or Bobby Orr out there? Jesus he's good.
 


Shorter MF: I'm not annoyed about Torres not getting suspended I'm not I'm not I'M NOT I'M NOT
[rising scream of a boiling kettle in background]
 


Regehr hit on Downie: judging by the best replay of the whole scene (the angle from behind Huet), it looked not only legal, but fair: no charge, no changing his posture at the last minute so that his shoulder 'accidentally' caught Downie right under the chin, just an explosion.

Those don't look like the words of someone who would indeed support suspensions for hits that cause concussions. Or am I being unfair?
 


Oh for fuck sakes...

I don't think that's correct; while I reserve judgement until I see any specific proposal, I thought I was relatively clear that I don't have any strong opinions about this, I just want to be able to understand how the discipline is doled out.

To expand even further, no, I don't suppose I'd support Robyn Regehr being suspended for a hit that was (and remains) entirely within the rules as he and I understand them. If the rules change, fine.

Or put an entirely different and possibly clearer way:

Lets be honest here. Kingir is a joke.
 


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