Thursday Mail Bag
Interesting idea. General manager of the year.
Why not? Everyone else gets recognized and, quite frankly, there's more than one of the other existing awards that could go and nobody would miss it.
The Selke? Best defensive forward, basically created for Bob Gainey. Total guesswork on behalf of the writers. Too often it goes to players who don't even play against the best players on the other team.
The Lady Byng? An anachronism, a throwback to another time. More often than not, it serves as a consolation award for those who aren't finalists for the bigger trophies.
Do we really need the Vezina and the Jennings?
Then there's the Hart and the newly named Ted Lindsay Award, formerly the Lester B. Pearson Award. The NHLPA wants you to believe it’s vital for them to get their players to vote on the MVP since they play the game and people who don't have no idea what they're talking about.
Really. Guess that's why the writers who vote for the Hart have the same three finalists as the Ted. What unique insight. One trophy would be enough.
Having a GM award, it seems to me, at least recognizes something of relevance not currently covered by another trophy.
The Sam Pollock? To me, it doesn't necessarily have to be named in honor of a former GM. Just somebody worth honoring. Don't forget, Art Ross never won an NHL scoring title. James Norris was never a defenceman, let alone the NHL's best. Bill Jennings sure had nothing to do with goaltending and Lady Byng, while she might have once seen a game, was not a forerunner to Hayley Wickenheiser.
I'm thinking Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky, Jean Beliveau and Gordie Howe all deserve to be immortalized on some trophy at some point.
So pick one of those and I'd be happy, and I'm certain this year's finalists - George McPhee (Washington), Don Maloney (Phoenix) and David Poile (Nashville) would feel honored.
Or name it the Red Fisher Trophy after the great Montreal sportswriter. Guy's been running the Habs for decades, anyway.
Now on to this week's mailbag:
Q: What should happen when the outcome of a game is determined by a blatant official error and not by the players ? In Detroit/ San Jose game one, Franzen was high-sticked, took nine stitches and a tripping penalty when there was absolutely no contact except his forehead. On the resulting power play, San Jose scored the winning goal. Should this game be replayed?
Glenn Hills, Maple
A: No. Of course not. When you find a sport that's officiated and never contains human error, let me know. Part of the game.
Q: I know this question is a bit premature, but i'm really curious. Say if the Canadiens happen to win the cup the year (which I hope does happen). Who gets to lift the cup first It's always the captain, but with no captain on the team, what happens with that?
Brian A, Summerside, PEI
A: The Habs have three assistants, Brian Gionta, Hal Gill and Andrei Markov. Markov isn't playing because of injury, but those three would figure it out amongst themselves or do it together. If I were Gionta and Hill, both first year Habs, I'd give the honor to Markov.
The last NHL team to win the Cup without a captain, by the way, was apparently the 1972 Boston Bruins. That was the year before Johnny Bucyk, who had worn the "C" in 1967, started wearing it again. Why there was no captain in between is something I'm trying to figure out. (Okay, here's the info on the Bruins supplied by Boston Globe writer Kevin Dupont. When deal was made with Chicago to bring in Phil Esposito, Harry Sinden wanted the team to craft its own identity. So Bucyk went from wearing the "C" to one of four players with an "A." Espo, Ted Green and Eddie Westfall were the others. Bucyk got the "C" back in '73 when the Bruins began losing players to the WHA. So there you have it.)
Q: Hi Damien,
A couple of trvia-type questions. Hope you can clarify.
1. Towel waving at hockey games, every home team does it. My recollection is that this started back in 1982 when Vancouver played the New York Islanders in the Stanley Cup finals. Roger Nelson held up a towel in mock surrender to the referees when he was frustrated with calls against the Canucks. Following that game, Vancouver fans started bringing towels to games as a sign of support. Is my memory serving me correctly?
2. I recently saw a promo for CBC and their hockey coverage. They showed a clip of Paul Henderson scoring his famous goal against the Soviets. If I remember correctly, CTV carried those games back in '72, not CBC. Your thoughts?
Keep up the great work.
Frank Comery, Sault Ste. Marie
A: I think you're right on both counts. The towel waving may also have been a carryover from other sports. CBC, meanwhile, may have purchased the rights to the '72 series at some point. (Correction: Am informed by broadcasting guru John Shannon that both CBC and CTV carried games in that series. Apologies.)
Q: Hello Damien,
My question concerns the integrity of the NHL's playoff scheduling for Round 2. Montreal and Detroit both had to start their second round series with just 2 days rest while all of the teams who finished their series in 6 games will start 1-2 days after the Canadiens and Wings.
Furthermore, Montreal must play Game 2 of their series 40 hours after ending Game 1 while the Wings get an extra day off. How fair is this for the integrity of the league and for a level playing field for all of the participants? This schedule is highly unfair to both Montreal and Detroit, but especially Montreal.
Rob Hisnay, Burlington, Vermont
A: I can see you point to some degree but there are so many variables in playoff scheduling, primarily arena availability, that's its hard to criticize. Moreover, both the Wings and Habs went to a seventh game in their first round series, and there's always been a cost to that. To me, the real unfairness is the amount of travel the western teams have to do compared to the east. That is much more likely to make a difference over the course of the post-season.
Q: Hi Damien, I am intrigued by players like Dustin Byfuglien and Marc-Andre Bergeron who flip-flop between forward and defence roles on their respective teams. To me it seems a player like this is an incredible asset to a team and can be very useful in the event of injury/penalty trouble. Are there many other players in the league who have a similar role on their team? How much value do you put on a player like this, and why don't you think more teams try to develop/seek out someone with such versatility
Kevin Mattiacci, Ottawa
A: Teams might like to have somebody able to do this but they're not easy to find. There are many cases of defencemen taking shifts as forwards, but not as many the other way around. Byfuglien might be the best now. In recent memory, Sergei Fedorov might have been the most accomplished because of his fabulous skating ability. For better or worse, most players are identified as forwards or defencemen now at such a young age they just don't get the chance to play both.
Q: Hey Damien, Who would you rather have on your team: Colton Orr or Rick Rypien
Donny Constans, Burlington
A: I, being a proponent of getting rid of fighting, might not be the best judge of this. Can I say neither? Anyways, Orr's a heavyweight and Rypien's a middleweight, so it's apples and oranges. Neither one's much of a player, although Rypien's nine goals in 110 career games is more impressive, I suppose, than Orr's eight in 327. Would either be in the league if there wasn't fighting? Orr had 23 fighting majors this year, Rypien 16, so I'm guessing the answer would be a resounding no.