It’s rant time.
I thought I would avoid opinions in this new column, but I have to weigh in on the Zdeno Chara hit on Max Pacioretty during Tuesday’s game. More importantly, I need to weigh in on the NHL’s policy on headshots.
I will no doubt leave myself open to argument by hockey purists and those who love the physical nature of the sport, but I think that the NHL needs to stop issuing suspensions based on intent and more based on actual damage. The intent issue seems to be argued to no end with everyone offering a totally different take on the hit. Chara’s hit on Pacioretty may have been okay in the textbook sense, but the prior history between the two players combined with Chara’s reluctance to slow his big body in that particular situation should have resulted in at least a minor suspension. If you’re speeding on the highway and you crash into someone, you may not have meant to injure that person, but you will still have to pay the price in the form of a fine, increased insurance rates, and even a possible ban from driving. The laws are in place because the good of all is more important than the good of one.
But the most appalling comments regarding this situation have to be from the NHL boss himself. To me, Gary Bettman’s comments on the hit reminds me of an absentee landlord of an apartment building who tells a tenant dealing with noisy neighbors that it’s all a part of “communal living” and that there’s no need to address the situation with the other party. No, it’s not. Maybe the majority of concussions are a result of accidental contact, but Colin Campbell and Mike Murphy seem to fail to understand how fast the game is today compared to when they played – when many players chose not to even wear helmets (for the record, Campbell and Murphy both wore helmets when they played).
All in all, Bettman seems to need a lesson in marketing. First, arguably the game’s biggest star (Sidney Crosby) is nowhere close to returning from a concussion, and he has still done nothing to attempt to protect the league’s elite players. Second, for him to snub Air Canada in its recent letter to the NHL is foolhardy, considering that the Canadian airplane giant holds the naming rights to the building in Toronto and contributes sponsorship dollars to all six Canadian teams. Perhaps Bettman is too busy trying to beat a dead horse with the Phoenix Coyotes situation to really care about this potentially larger PR disaster.
Most importantly, let’s hope Pacioretty is able to resume his NHL career at some point. Let’s hope his career doesn’t take the path of Steve Moore’s.
Anyway, time for Friday’s Pick Six. The first two selections are courtesy of reader Charlie.
Adam McQuaid, BOS – start
McQuaid’s name might be one that you’re not familiar with, but you’ll see it at third place in the NHL plus/minus rankings (+27). McQuaid is also a strong bet to earn a five-minute fighting major in this game that features two teams that don’t mind slugfests. For some reason, I’m getting a visual of Billy Smith whacking Terry O’Reilly in the knees now.
Zenon Konopka, NYI – start
McQuaid’s dance partner for this game could very well be Konopka, considering that Trevor Gillies is suspended again. Surprisingly, Konopka is a guy you should also look at if your league counts faceoffs, with 542 faceoffs won and a solid 57.8 percent success rate. Now I’m wondering if Gillies would have been man enough to take on Zdeno Chara. Speaking of which, could Chara be a target for the Islanders in his second game since the hit?
Jonathan Bernier, LA – start
Kings coach Terry Murray is continuing with his goalie rotation, starting Quick on Friday (LA Kings Insider). Whether Bernier deserves to be starting 50 percent of the games down the stretch seems to be a topic of considerable discussion on this site, but I’m of the opinion that he deserves to be starting. The Blue Jackets’ offense doesn’t scare anyone, and Bernier is not bad on the road (2.45 GAA, .915 SV%), so don’t be afraid to give him a go.
Jose Theodore, MIN – bench
One of the features that I’ll attempt to provide you with in this article are some goaltending predictions for the following day’s confirmed starters. Theodore is scheduled to start on Friday against Dallas (Minneapolis Star-Tribune), but here’s all you need to know about Theodore in Dallas: at the American Airlines Center, Theo is 1-4-2 with a 4.40 GAA and a .843 SV%. Look for another option.
Blake Wheeler, ATL – start
Wheeler’s fantasy value has definitely spiked since his trade to Atlanta from Boston. He has averaged 19 minutes of icetime per game with the Thrashers, up a whole four minutes from his time with the Bruins this season. With his new team, Wheeler has six points in eight games, including two goals against Florida on Saturday. The Devils’ goaltending will be a tough test, but add Wheeler anyway for one day and possibly longer.
Sergei Gonchar, OTT – bench
This might be a bit of an obvious one here, but it’s just an alert in case you haven’t checked your roster in awhile. With the “wait till next year” Senators facing a Bolts team loading up for the playoffs, this game could be one of those (-2) or (-3) games that you don’t like to see. The supposedly offensive-minded Gonchar has just two points in his last nine games, in case you were wondering.
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