It’s not so much that we here at Black and Blue and Gold are anti-Tank (we are), it’s that we take massive, massive Umbrage with the notion that tanking for top draft picks is somehow a Go Directly To The Stanley Cup Card. It isn’t. And yes, I know, I know, you can point to top five picks held in consecutive seasons by Pittsburgh (2002-2006), Carolina (2004-2006), Chicago (2006-2008), and Los Angeles (2007-2009), but you can also point to Columbus, Florida, Edmonton, Atlanta, and if you want to go back far enough, San Jose, the Islanders, Ottawa, Quebec, Minnesota, and Washington. Among others.
Here’s the dirty little secret: if you are drafted by a team that picks in the top 5 in back to back years, you are more likely to never see a Stanley Cup Finals (let alone win it) with that team. Significantly more likely. Three to four times more likely.
Boston in 6 – It’s hard to fathom Boston not being better in every single game in almost every single way. The only way they can lose this for themselves is by gooning it up and getting into penalty trouble. Crap…
NY Rangers in 6 – I went back and forth on this, but here’s where I’m at. I trust Lundqvist over Fleury. I trust the Rangers’ forward depth over the Penguins forward depth. I trust the Rangers defense over the Penguins defense. And I trust that the Rangers’ star players are better than the Columbus star players who gave Pittsburgh fits.
Chicago in 4 – Minnesota couldn’t keep pucks out of the net in key moments vs. Colorado where you can make the argument that they should have won six of those games.
Los Angeles in 5 – We need a fast-forward button. Ignore the scores, look at the possession numbers. Holy god.
Sunday evening @langluy weighed in on the Donald Sterling controversy by saying that he’d probably be more comfortable in the NHL where a vast majority of the players are white. Predictably this set off a firestorm from people who don’t want to see racial uncomfortabilities lobbed at ‘their’ sport in any way even though the point was really only to illustrate a lack of people of color in hockey which is, you know, statistically supported.
This is what we know this NHL playoffs: Brent Seabrook got 3 games for one of the most disgusting hits I’ve ever seen. Matt Cook got 7 games for going knee-on-knee on Tyson Barrie (still gross, but a far cry from knocking a guy’s head off the boards like a ping pong ball). Milan Lucic got 0 games for spearing Danny DeKeyser in the junk. The NHL isn’t suspending enough for questionable antics definitely, but more to the point of this article, the NHL’s current system of suspensions isn’t strict enough to be a deterrent.
Here’s what I propose, and yes I realize this would require changes to the CBA and therefore never happen:
Suspension Decisions – Made by a panel of 3, no hockey affiliation, accredited law degree required.
Appeals – Made by a panel of 7, no hockey affiliation, accredited law degree required.
No more of this bullsh*t NHL shadow government that never punishes teams like Boston or the Rangers. Let’s have our decision makes be people who went to school specifically to learn to apply rules and dole out justice in a consistent manner. No more former meathead players, no more potential for any bias at all.
The Rule Changes
- All majors are to be reviewed by the Player Safety Department to see if they’re worthy of further discipline.
- The panel of 3 can request player hearings to review incidents.
- Head-shots, kneeing, charging, and boarding all earn an automatic major and game misconduct, even for incidental contact.
- Injuries sustained by the victim are irrelevant.
- Suspensions may include exhibition games to keep the player off the ice, but these games will not count towards the minimum length of their suspension.
The Transition Period
Start hitting these guys with suspensions that matter. In fact, start making more hits suspension worthy. There’s no reason that boarding and hits to the head shouldn’t be automatic majors and game misconducts. “But…but…some players might get penalized by accident!” Tough sh*t. In the real world it’s called a DUI, not a DUI but only if you mowed someone down. In the NHL it should be a punished reckless action, not a punished reckless action only if you put a guy in a stretcher.
Hold teams accountable for stuffing their rosters full of dirty players. Unlike the NFL, the NHL largely lacks an off-ice “character issues” problem, but judging by the amount of assaults that occur under the guise of “hockey play,” it certainly has an on-ice one. ‘Player X doesn’t seem to know the difference between a dirty hit and a clean one’ should absolutely make a guy sink like a stone in the draft.
“I have been to every place … I’m just trying to find my way.” (Nine Inch Nails, Find My Way)
The Amerks are heading into the Calder Cup Playoffs! This is both exciting and not a surprise, despite the constant rollercoaster of players leaving town in order to have the Sabres be able to bench a full team. The best is yet to come, however …