Monday, April 14, 2008

Dancing With the Goalies

We have seen players get penalties based in part of their reputations as players and we have seen the NHL make rules changes because of something that happened during a previous season. What we have never seen before was an overnight rule change based upon a player's action during a game.

Now for the record, we are not huge fans of Sean Avery as he has pulled some stunts which we find in poor taste for an NHL player. We think that at times, Avery is more about drawing attention to than anything else.

Really what Avery did to Brodeur we had mixed feelings about as if he had kept his stick down we would have loved it. When we watched it during the game, we laughed because it was what we want Avery to be which is the pest.

It was more like those Dancing Reality shows than it was anything else. If Avery was talking to the media we would have asked him what he thought of his dance steps and to give us his take on Brodeur's Dancing Skills.

All kidding aside though we find that this media advisory to be nothing more than a knee jerk reaction by the NHL that is flat out wrong.

“An unsportsmanlike conduct minor penalty will be interpreted and applied, effective immediately, to a situation when an offensive player positions himself facing the opposition goaltender and engages in actions such as waving his arms or stick in front of the goaltender’s face, for the purpose of improperly interfering with and/or distracting the goaltender as opposed to positioning himself to try to make a play,” Colin Campbell, the NHL director of hockey operations said in a statement.

This does beg one really huge question that we would like to have answered: What about the real problems facing the level of NHL officiating like the inconsistency of the calls during the current playoffs?

It is so very interesting that in less than 24 hours the NHL, can review, discuss, meeting and develop a ruling but not figure out a way to improve the quality of NHL officiating. Why is that we ask?

As we said we are no fans of Sean Avery but the facts are screaming at us that this was a rule change made because of who Sean Avery is and his past record. There is no other way to look at it as we are wondering what the reaction would have been if that had been Crosby or Ovechkin who pulled what Avery did.

It is hard for us to believe that had it been one of the NHL poster boys then the reaction would have been the same as it is for Sean Avery who is one of the most unpopular players in the NHL. Anyone else and the odds are good that people would have been saluting their creativity.

We say this because despite all the reaction to this one single play, getting into a goalie’s face is not really new. Ryan Smyth of the Avalanche has been using a similar tactic during his time in the NHL but up until Avery got attention for it nobody had said a word.

How come when Captain Canada as the beloved former leader of the Oilers is known as never one got yapped about when he did the "high stick blindfold" but the first time that Sean Avery does it, the NHL reacts as if the integrity of the game was in danger of being destroyed.

Of course let us also ask the NHL one more question because since they had to look at the video of what Avery did; why did they not fine Martin Brodeur for using HIS stick on Avery especially the shots to Avery’s groin?

It would be very nice to hear an explanation how one play, which at the time was not against the rule book gets a huge look at but Brodeur’s shot to Avery’s groin which could be any number of different rule book violations has no reaction.

It would be very nice to hear an explanation how one play, which at the time was not against the rule book gets a huge look at but Brodeur’s shots to Avery’s groin which could be any number of different rule book violations has no reaction. (We also love that the folks at TSN also ignore what Marty was doing, nice unbiased reporting folks)

Now before we get buried alive by those who want to claim that Brodeur was defending himself from Avery's high stick, please note that Brodeur is using his stick on Avery's groin before the Avery Show really began.

In the video we are using here please note that Don Van Massenhoven has a very clear view of what Avery is doing and what Brodeur is also doing. While we do not know what if anything Massenhoven said; what we do know is that he had a clear view and did nothing to both players.

This is something that could have been addressed during the off-season during the normal meetings of the Competition Committee. We have a question for Brendan Shanahan which is how does he feel after Campbell bypassed the Competition Committee?

All this is going to do is further anger Ranger fans who have been begging the Rangers to start screaming over the level of officiating they have been witnessing. We said yesterday not to bother and instead concentrate on the Rangers fixing the areas of their game which needed improvement.

We based it on seeing that the only consistency we have been seeing about the NHL officiating has been the poor quality of inconsistency. We stressed that the Rangers needed to fix themselves and not worry about the refs.

What we did not know at the time was that unknown to us, Commissioner Gary Bettman had already been asked what he thought about the officiating and this was his response as reported by Scott Cruickshank of the Calgary Herald:

"You know what? I think the officiating is good," said Bettman. "I think it undergoes intense scrutiny this time of year. Of all the people on the ice and surrounding the ice, our officials probably make the fewest mistakes. This is a game of mistakes, including the officials, and we hold them accountable."

Here is what is scary though as if you remove the Flames out of the article and replace it with the Rangers or any other team in the playoffs and their fans will swear up and down that the article was about their team.

All season long the Rangers have had to deal with the consistent inconsistency of the NHL Officials, now we are in the playoffs so every call is magnified and the quality of the NHL Officials gets criticized more because the NHL tells us that these are their very best.

Excuse while we start laughing because while the picks, hooks, cross checks, shots to the groin, trips and other calls are being missed the NHL is now safe from Sean Avery dancing in front of Marty Brodeur.

We are impressed how about you?

(Avery Picture Courtesy of the NHL Media Website)

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