The last time the Orange County brahs were here, the Canucks embarrassed themselves by letting Ryan Kesler be himself. Come to think of it, the Ducks have made the Canucks look pretty foolish a couple times this year if you count the way they let Ryan Getzlaf just run around and injure guys with no payback whatsoever.
The Canucks are coming off a loss that in my eyes is far worse than Saturday's stinker to the Leafs, because this team that was supposedly embarrassed came out completely flat against a team that had lost a ton of games in a row, fragile as hell and would have been easy to shut down with any kind of a push. Instead we were treated to another flattering (to the victors) 5-2 loss on home ice.
You only need to look at Anaheim's win in Edmonton last night to see how this is all going to play out. The Ducks capitalized on the Oilers lack of discipline, and made them pay on the power play. You know this is going to be an issue tonight, the Canucks likely playing right into the Ducks hands. Watch for Kesler, Perry, Getzlaf and Co. to come out full douchebag to get under the skin of the Canucks and force them to respond. It's gonna be ugly.
Speaking of ugly, the Dennis Wideman case took a spin yesterday as the NHL announced that it would be upholding the 20 game suspension he received for cross-checking linesman Don Henderson. The big shocker in it all was a scathing rebuke from Gary Bettman, calling out Wideman for a text that he sent to a teammate on Feb 2nd after his initial disciplinary hearing. The case is fascinating, because quite literally no one saw this coming. It also had everyone scrambling, because the first reaction was 'Why did Dennis Wideman hand over his phone?"
As we have found out, he had no choice. The NHLPA asked for and received the phone info from Henderson, who also was not able to deny the request during the investigation. It was through the text that Bettman determined that Wideman was not being honest about his side of the story, that he wasn't taking responsibility for his actions. The text message, blaming his troubles on 'the stupid refs and the stupid media', shows a pretty shocking level of denial, one you'd expect from a player in the junior ranks and not a veteran of a professional sport.
While the reaction of the officials may take a while to play out, the reaction of media has been varied to say the least. Some Calgary media reacted strongly, lashing out at Wideman for the way he's handled this, The Calgary Sun's Eric Francis said this:
It’s that sort of delusion and lack of accountability that clearly frustrated the commissioner as he penned a fascinating retort to Wideman’s testimony and the concussion expert testimony suggesting he lacked "situational awareness."
What wasn't surprising was the blustering reaction from Flames President Brian Burke, angry at the NHL for taking too long, and that Wideman will continue to sit as they now await for the NHLPA's appeal of Bettman's ruling with independent arbitrator James Oldham. While Burke likely has a point about the length of time it's taken for this:
"To take a week to rubber stamp a decision made by the hockey operations department of the NHL as games tick off for my player that affect my team’s ability to win that affect playoff races and that affect competitive balance is incomprehensible to me," barked Burke on Sportsnet.
This whole line of thought hinges on their original stance: Wideman was concussed on the play, wasn't aware of what he was doing and was genuinely remorseful for his actions. The text, in the eyes of the NHL, blows holes in that theory. It's pretty disingenuous of Burke, once the NHL's head of discipline, to knock the league and Bettman for somehow easily dismissing this, given a) this is completely uncharted territory for the NHL, and b) the 23 page response by Bettman outlining the details of why he wasn't lifting the suspension.
I get that Burke needs to stick up for his player and his team, but the words he's using don't seem to help his case much given the way the appearance of this case changed with the admission of the Wideman text. Instead of looking like a passionate defender of his player, Burke and the Flames organization end up looking as ignorant and unwilling to accept the consequences of Wideman's actions as Wideman himself. Bettman even said in his report that if it were not for Wideman's clean disciplinary record during his career, he would have increased the suspension. This case isn't done, not by a long shot. But when you consider the damning evidence that turned this case on it's head, I find it hard to believe an independent set of eyes is going to view this as anything less than one of the worst instances of official abuse the game has ever seen.
FRESH HOT LINKS
- Since Saturday, Willie D is seen as the biggest problem with the Canucks, but as usual the outsiders are wrong about this team
- So let's humour them and play along with their 'go for the playoffs' thing: Should they be looking at Brad Boyes?
- JPat with some numbers to absorb over at Canucks Army about what the Canucks are facing tonight
- More than anything else, it's the Canucks poor play at home that's sinking them
- The Province has the Morning Skate with a question: Is Roberto Luongo a hall of famer?
- PITB's Daniel Wagner with a must read post about the Canucks D and just how bad they are
- In positive news, Dave Tomlinson reflects on the Kesler trade
GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN
I often try to find some kind of connection with the GDBH, whether it be a common theme with the post, or a connection to the home of the opponent. Today, I just wanna play a song that rips and makes me wanna smash shit up. This may or may not have something to do with the frustration of this team's evolution, but as I have always found with metal: violent, aggressive music has a cleansing effect on one's mind and soul.
- Lunchtime Links: Not With a Bang, But a Whimper Edition
- Vancouver Canucks Come out Flat, Never Threaten in Latest Home Loss
- Game Day Coffee- Feb 15/16- Abandon All Hope, Yeo Who Enter Here
- Midnight Snack Links: Ugh Edition
- A "Big Loss" Game Recap ( 5-2 L )