Archive for the ‘polarizing soap boxing’ Category

Bertuzzday: The Rangers immensely foolish reaction to Cherepanov’s death

November 11, 2008

On a day like this, Americans think of those who gave their lives to protect and embolden this country. Hockey historian Joe Pelletier features two great pieces regarding hockey and the war on his informative Greatest Hockey Legends blog (click here for stories on such luminaries as Conn Smythe and an intriguing read about “The Hockey Jersey that saved a Prisoner of War“).

Normally, Bertuzzdays are meant to be a time capsule into the silliest (and sometimes most shameful) moments in NHL history, but today made me think of Alex Cherepanov enough that it seemed like an appropriate subject. On some level, every war leads to what seems like pointless, unnecessary deaths … but it doesn’t get much worse than a person dying while playing a sport.

Over the last few years, there have been some close calls. Richard Zednik suffered a freak injury when his throat was slashed by Olli Jokinen‘s skate. It was a near-miracle that Zednik survived. The medical staffer actually choked Zednik in order to keep him from bleeding to death.

Another chilling near-death experience came when Jiri Fischer nearly died during a Detroit Red Wings game. Much like Cherepanov, no one was aware of Fischer’s heart problems. His teammates and spectators watched helplessly as their friend was close to death, but in this case his team was prepared enough to save his life.

For Fischer, it was a near-death experience that sent him on the road trying to convince hockey teams to carry a defibrillator in order to be prepared for such emergencies. Details on Cherepanov’s death are shady, but the general consensus seems to be that the ambulance needed to save his life came a tragic 15-20 minutes too late. It’s not a sure thing the young man would have survived anyway, but it’s truly awful to wonder if the case will justify the negligence charges brought up by Russian lawyers.

Time will tell whether or not Cherepanov’s death could have been prevented.

One thing, though, that’s not up to debate is how poorly the New York Rangers handled this delicate situation last week. As Mirtle pointed out in his new blog, while justifiably asking for a compensatory pick Rangers assistant GM Cam Hope broke every commandment in the tact Bible with this jaw-droppingly bad statement (I put the particularly inflammatory stuff in bold):

“We understand that this is a sensitive issue, but with all due respect to Alexei’s family and his memory, he is technically eligible to be drafted again next year.

We are not attempting to capitalize on a tragedy, but there would be no question regarding the Rangers’ right to a compensatory pick if Cherepanov had been revived and survived the incident and were on life support.”

To paraphrase Kyle’s mom: “What – what – WHHHAAAAT?”

In a sick way, that quote reminded me of the scene in Talladega Nights where Ricky Bobby prefaces broad, sweeping insults by first saying “With all due respect.”

Sports fans and Americans in general have a reputation for blowing sports out of proportion. But even the most hardcore sports fanatics understand that there is a line you don’t cross.

It was one thing for the Rangers to meekly probe the NHL regarding the situation, but to use such crass language leaves Glenn Sather and Co. with plenty of egg to clean off their faces.

Really, it’s comments like those that justify insufferable inventions like sensitivity training. Cherepanov’s death was unnecessary but, even if Omsk/KHL dropped the ball, what they did was still an accident during a nightmare situation. It’s not every day that a college aged, phenomenal athlete goes into cardiac arrest. Even if someone was at fault it was still a lack of preparedness or luck, not an act of premeditated stupidity. His death, along with the equally awful death of Luc Bourdon, make 2008 a tragic year for hockey.

But while you can chalk Cherepanov’s death up to an accident in at least some train of thought, how can you spin the Rangers’ graceless gesture? Hopefully the NHL punishes them by not giving them a damn thing.

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Is there ANYTHING cool about the Florida Panthers? … The news cycle!

November 6, 2008

My take on All-Star Voting: why not simply take a kitchen sink approach and provide a drag-and-drop list of active NHL players? This would allow the process to be much more Democratic and might even encourage smart, logical voting. (Probably not)

As far as the Hockey Hall of Fame goes, sports HoFs are far too inclusive and stats-driven. The key to a good voting is to not limit the amount of people elected per year, never mandate inductions per year and to go on a “no-brainer” plan of selections. Of course, sports HoFs often are looking to make money and entice visitors, so they probably are doing the right thing.

ANYWAY, since I won’t be in Florida, this list is merely for fun. But Puck Daddy asked the hockey public to name 10 things that are actually cool about the Florida Panthers. Let’s see if this is possible:

1. Move over, Avery Rule

In the long-ago days when the Florida Panthers made a deep playoff run, fans celebrated their scrappy team’s goals by showering the ice with plastic rats. It was a charming, if somewhat obnoxious neo-tradition that prompted the league to create a delay of game penalty so the rat showers would stop.

Rats > Avery windshield wiping

2. They fired Mike Keenan

Mike Keenan’s extensive, yet glaringly unsuccessful post-Rangers coaching career boggles my mind. If you were to believe what’s written in the book “Messier,” that historic ’94 Cup run happened in the middle of a mutiny against the hateful coach. Yet he still keeps getting jobs.

But the one silver lining about hiring Keenan is that a team will inevitably fire him.

3. Jay Bouwmeester in video games

He’s not a household name, but he should be if you have a video game console. Going back to the PS2 days of NHL 2K, Bouwmeester’s always been a diamond in the rough because of his blazing speed. His end-to-end digi-prowess prompted the creation of the term “Poor Man’s Orr.”

4. The veteran free agent/trade disappointment du jour

The Florida Panthers signing a washed up semi-big name is becoming a time-honored tradition.For years, “Scary” Gary Roberts broke the hearts of Panthers fans with seasons marred by injuries but he’s been followed by luminaries such as Todd Bertuzzi (in the disastrous Roberto Luongo trade), Joe Nieuwendyk and now Cory Stillman.

Remember, misery builds character.

5. The logo/mascot actually isn’t half-bad

New NHL logos – and sports logos in general – are often dominated with sharp edges and the wet dreams of Mountain Dew marketers. So it’s always nice to see a team come up with a relatively simple design and the Panthers have a solid, inoffensive logo.

It’s often annoying when teams lace their logos with ‘tude, but shit, Panthers probably are growling and mean much of the time so this works.

Bonus points for including an endangered species and not trying to force the Panther to awkwardly hold a stick or sport other hockey gear.

6. Tomas Vokoun

He might not be the most exciting goalie on the planet, but he’s the closest the Panthers can get to a legitimate All-Star caliber player.

7. Nathan Horton

One of the hidden gems of the NHL, Horton might never put up big numbers but he’s a talented young power forward. Still, he fits in with the Panthers affliction of potential never meeting production.

8. John Vanbiesbrouck’s helmet

I remember playing the actually kinda shitty NHL ’97 on the Playstation One and thinking that the Bieser’s helmet was the shit.

(Definitely grasping at straws)

9. They didn’t hire Barry Melrose

10. Sure, the Lightning won a Cup … but the Panthers beat the Mario Lemieux – Jaromir Jagr led Penguins

As you can see, there probably are only about five things that are actually cool about the Florida Panthers … but hey, it was nice to at least give it the old college try.

Seriously, though, it brings up an interesting question: who IS the best American hockey player to lace ’em up? Mike Modano leads many of the big scoring categories, but Pat LaFontaine‘s brilliance is probably unmatched.

If Pat Lafontaine played today, is there any doubt this movie would be involved in a genius PhotoShop?

But Jeremy Roenick is unquestionably the most gifted, electronically. Since I’m distantly related to Brian Leetch in a “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” kind of way, it is my duty to abstain.

My assumed “#11 American” Phil Housely probably shifted in his seat when he (hypothetically) learned that he was not included in this discussion. (Tough titties)

It boggles my mind that Americans cannot seem to mind their own damn beeswax when it comes to sex and marriage. Seriously, how can anyone be so sanctimonious about something that straight people only have a 50 percent success rate with? Whatev.

Interesting take on the issue and the film “Milk” at CHUD.com.

/politics

  • The biggest news in hockey this week is that Martin Brodeur is expected to miss three to four months because of elbow surgery. Sooner or later, the seemingly invincible “fatso” was going to get injured although this year seemed the most jinx-tastic with all the talk about Brodeur breaking Patrick Roy and Terry Sawchuk‘s big goalie records.

Could it be the Avery curse?

  • Sid the Kid “responded” to Alex Semin’s interview where the forest fire-hot forward asked what was so special about Crosby and expressed his preference for Patrick Kane‘s game (as well as Pavel Datsyuk‘s stickhandling abilities). Crosby must love dealing with these “he said she said” comments all the time, although that’s the price you pay for big Reebok contracts and media adoration. My guess is that Semin – known for being quiet though that might be a language barrier issue more than anything else – simply let his guard down in the company of a fellow Russian.

To the delight of anyone who read the interesting and revealing interview, of course. Not sure how big Sovetsky Sport is in Russia but their interviews are a real gem for the blogosphere as they allow us to get a rare glimpse of Russians including Evgeni Malkin and Alex Ovechkin.

One thing’s for sure: whether Semin’s snipes were blown out of proportion or not, adding that to Alex O headhunting Malkin and the media coverage of Sidney vs. Alex O makes for quite the rivalry between Pittsburgh and Washington.

Please, Hockey Gods, give us a Battle of California and Pittsburgh vs. Washington in the playoffs this year. We’ll sacrifice Alexei Yashin if necessary.