It's the breaking point for me, kids. Am I giving up on the Canucks? No. I've had it with the media and the NHL and I am not going to take anymore crap from them. It's time to get some stuff off my chest. So doing my best to keep this somewhat sane, it's time to talk about a word that begins with the letter 'C', it's overuse, and a couple other 'C' words that are the real issue here.
When the Alexandre Burrows / Stephane Auger incident happened, it was a PR nightmare for the NHL. Something happened there, and it looked really bad, even to the most jaded of hockey fans. But instead of trying to assure everyone that there really wasn't an issue, we were treated to a load of Bettmanisms. Blanket denial, indignant statement about how the issue is made up and you should be ashamed for even suggesting it, 'thorough' investigation, followed up by predictable outcome: Burrows wasn't really lying, but since there's no evidence, we will fine him, and then give a glowing recommendation of our officials, even though this one will be barred from contact with this team, and will not be given playoff assignments. We do however have complete faith in him. Who are you gonna believe: us, or your lying eyes?
Some media members, to their credit were willing to at least look at it objectively. But for every reporter or blogger that did, there were two who not only towed the NHL's line of propaganda, they took the opportunity to cast disparaging remarks about Burrows, the Canucks organization, the entire province of BC and especially the fans.
Canucks fans are now painted with a wide brush because some, used to dismissive attitudes from the NHL and some media outlets, felt as though there were a conspiracy against the team. The problem all along has been this: rather than look at a situation that happened to us that affects the entire league and the game itself, the NHL and the media act as though everyone in British Columbia has stock in Alcan.
From the Leafs organization's tampering, to Augergate, to the latest issues: an improperly called too many men on the ice penalty and Daniel Sedin's disallowed goal, if one chose to believe that conspiracies against the Canucks were possible, the evidence was certainly there. I'm not suggesting these were the reasons the Canucks lost the game. The too many men penalty though was as close as you can get to that, simply because the interpretation and explination given by the NHL and it's officials do not mesh with the video of the incident and the player involved.
Kevin Bieksa was rushing to the bench, bleeding from a skate cut to his face when the puck struck his skate. Despite the rule saying it had to be deliberately played, one of the linesman decided to make the call. The Kings score on the ensuing power play in OT and even the series. The NHL says the officials made the correct call, but anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of the game could see that it simply wasn't so. The next game came the one that really sent people over the top however: Daniel Sedin's disallowed goal.
First, here's the goal in question:
and the initial response from the NHL's Mike Murphy, who made the call to overturn the official's decision:
Some people decided that Murphy's past as a member of the Los Angeles Kings organization was suspicious. Is it? No, just another one of those coincidences. But you have to shake your head at just how many of these coincidences there are. Murphy's explanation comes across pretty ridiculous here. Once again, the NHL tells us they're capable of reading minds, and the things Murphy tries to establish as fact do not match what you see with the the video.
So we hear about the DVD sent out to the teams to explain what will and will not be a goal, and from all accounts, it's about as successful at defining the situation as the one the league issued for the changes to the head shot ruling.
So the league says that this rule change came about 2 months ago, before Daniel scored this goal:
So they say they changed the interpretation a couple months ago so we can rest easy because like they always do, the NHL made the right call. So perhaps someone can explain this one to me from 3 weeks ago:
This goal is good, according to the War Room. Now if you want to continue to bash Canucks fans for thinking there's a conspiracy, go ahead. As I've said, I don't believe there is, but the NHL does nothing in this situation but make it possible for the thought to exist. So why did Murphy allow that one and not Daniel's? I'm sorry, what was that? Mike Murphy was tired, and wasn't able to articulate properly? This is an acceptable explination? This wouldn't fly at McDonalds, and yet the fans of the Canucks are told they got it right. And why didn't the NHL let the media and fans know about a rule interpretation change that apparently happened two months ago?
Is there anything about Bettman's words, tone or body language that suggests anything but someone rapidly firing out defensive words and deflecting blame? See, we can read minds too. It's fun. Once again, no conspiracy. But it's an unacceptable response from the head of a multi-billion dollar organization that has continued to treat it's fan base with contempt. Yes, it affected the Canucks directly. But a good portion of us know: it's about the game, stupid!
This year's playoffs, well the whole season has seen more complaints about officiating than I can ever recall. But we keep being told there isn't an issue. And now that the playoffs are here, we're told it's just being magnified by the significance of the games. So is it wrong to think that at the most crucial time, we should have faith in the officiating? There's nothing I have seen in any of the series that suggests to me that the NHL and it's officials have things under control. Take any other series and you will see penalties and non calls alike that simply boggle the mind. The NHL creates the situation, then mismanages it through PR and allows the seeds of doubt to not just be planted, but grow.
The 'C' words we are concerned about is not conspiracy, or even corruption. They're competence and credibility. There is none to be found here, and that my friends is the real outrage. So finally, to all you media types: Lay off. It's so disingenuous of you to attack a fan base with this wide brush. You mock, ridicule and insult, yet who of you has the courage to actually stand up and call the NHL's bluff? You're more willing to join the bandwagon of taunting buffoons than actually investigate the issues? It's as embarrassing as the NHL's blanket dismissals themselves.
Damian Cox, Adrian Dater, Jim Kelley and many others have savaged this team's fans time and time again. To them I say quit dragging your profession into the mud, and be journalists for a change. It's rather hypocritical of you to take anything the NHL says at face value at the best of times, but when so much evidence stares you in the face, have the balls to at least look to see if they have actually got it right. That's not a conspiracy. It's what journalists do.
What now? Well, along with supporting the team, I say we Canucks fans (and anyone who is simply tired of lies and being treated like simpletons by the league and some of the media) just push back. No name calling, no lunacy. Just calm, intelligent discussion to show that we know there's a problem, and as fans we deserve better. Better officiating. Better explanations. And to be shown just a little respect for being intelligent fans of the greatest game on earth. When you make a mistake, own it. Don't make us feel like forces are conspiring against us? As sports fans, the worst feeling in the world is the thought that something outside of the action on the field is going to decide the fate of their team. The NHL, through it's actions and words, enabled by the media, have cultivated that for far too long.
The dearly departed
Can we please rise, remove our hats and have a moment of silence during the 21 jam jar salute for the New Jersey Devils, the first team to depart the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs. A huge shock? Perhaps not when you look at how the Devils have played, and their playoff history over the last few years. There was a moment of comedy in all this when Ilya Kovalchuk guaranteed a w...
"Yo, I'm really sorry for the New Jersey Devils, and Imma let you finish, but Mark Messier is the better game winning predictor of hockey games or somethin'. And I don't even like hockey, yo. But even I know that. Werd."
Wow. What the hell...? Anyways, the Devils are done, but the Senators decided that not only would they give their fans one more game, but they would also rub a little salt into the perpetual open wound that is the Leafs Nation when Matt Carkner scored in the 3rd overtime to give the Ottawa Senators a 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Pascal Leclaire was brilliant for the Sens, stopping 56 Penguins shots to force a Game 6 Saturday in Ottawa. I am sure once the Sens run is over, Colton Orr will beat Carkner on the golf course too. That's becuase he's had much more time to practice.
The San Jose Sharks seemingly have found a spark, as for once in their series against the Colorado Avalanche the score reflected how badly the Sharks have outplayed their opponents. Logan Couture had a pair for the Sharks as they cruised to a 5-0 victory over Colorado. While history has shown it's best to play it safe when assuming anything about the Sharks, last night certainly suggests that the Avs are in the process of ending their year, having spent it all just to get to the dance. But at least the Sharks were full value for this win, right?
Meanwhile, the Chicago Blackhawks have pulled even with the Nashville Predators in their series as they head back to Chicago for game 5. Can't say I am terribly impressed with Chicago so far, this highly explosive offensive squad has just 1 more goal in 4 games than the Canucks scored Wednesday night against the Kings. Has Niemi answered the critics? Hardly. He has 2 shutouts, but lost both games he surrendered goals in. This one is going to go the distance, and that loss last night was as much about Nashville coming out flat as Chicago responded to the thumping they got on Tuesday.
Tonight we will see if the Canadiens and Sabres can avoid elimination, while the Kings and Canucks, and Coyotes and Red Wings battle for the upper hand in their series. I'd like to wish everyone games without controversy, but I have abandoned all hope of that.