Conspiracy Theorists Unite

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I would like to say a few words about Ray Emery, but let’s get some boring fantasy stuff out of the way first.

Mike Fisher has been playing with Alfredsson and Heatley both 5 on 5 and on the power play.  Corvo and Redden continue to man the power play points.  The 2nd unit has been Schubert, Meszaros, Vermette, Eaves and Robitaille.   Spezza still out and they’re hoping for his return on Thursday.

That’s enough of that. 

There have been some interesting quotes in Ottawa papers lately.

Senators coach John Paddock decided to give Emery the start against the Caps because, “it’s his turn to play.” But Paddock didn’t give Emery a ringing endorsement when it came to discussing his work ethic in practice.

“I don’t think (his work habits are) any different than last year,” said Paddock. “That doesn’t mean it’s exactly where you want it. But each player has a right to prepare the way they want to prepare. It might not be what we want and it might not be the best, but, over time if you think there’s a tweaking needed, you make (an adjustment).

You can expect Gerber to start against the Montreal Canadiens Saturday which would be a pretty strong indication of where Emery stands.

“(Gerber) has been unbelievable,” said centre Mike Fisher. “The way (Gerber) practises, competes, his character and the way he works out in the room, I’m not really surprised.”

The above was from an article yesterday.  In terms of players and coaches talking about teammates, this is pretty strong stuff.  Clearly, no one is really impressed with Emery’s work habits and that puts into question his committment to “team”.  Fisher wasn’t directly addressing Emery, but read between the lines and there is a clear implication that he feels Gerber does have that committment to team.

Add to all of this that Emery wasn’t very good in the third period, giving up 4 to the Thrashers and then he gives up another 4 to the Capitals last night and has THIS to say: 

“I’ve got to make a couple of saves, but at the same time no one had their best effort,” said Emery.

I’m going to stop short of saying that Emery may not be popular in the Senators’ room, but if he’s not, this kind of shot at his teammates is not going to help, even if it may be the truth.   I will also stop short of saying that the Senators’ players are selling Emery out in games; that’s just unprofessional, but they certainly haven’t brought their best efforts in the last 4 periods Emery has been in net.  I will say this; a dressing room divided is not what the Sens need at this point, or any point in this season (not that I’m saying it is). 

Ok, on to happier items; let’s talk about Patrice Bergeron.

The debate about the hit Randy Jones laid on Patrice Bergeron has been lively and fraught with illogic.  Here’s an example:

“…..yes that suspension IS indeed a joke. Any player who injures another player should be kept from the game as long as the other player is out”

Fighting through the unclarity of phrasing, this person (and many others) have suggested that Jones should be suspended as long as Bergeron cannot play.  Let’s examine this a bit.  The hit on Bergeron was a penalty.  It was called a penalty.  Jones is responsible for his play and this was clearly an illegal hit.  There are penalties called every night on players who check from behind and probably not enough of them if the league treated checking from behind with the zero tolerance that they reserve for hooking.  (whether or not they should, is another debate and I’ll get to that below)

Here is where the argument that a player should be suspended as long as the injured player is out, falls apart.  A scenario for you:

Marian Gaborik trips Brad May and with his built up head of steam, May goes head first into the boards and separates his shoulder.  He’s out two months and Gaborik gets suspended until May comes back.  

Anyone knows that Gaborik wasn’t trying to hurt May.  May happened to get hurt on the play and now we are suspending Gaborik because his penalized play resulted in an injury.  This is the same situation as the Jones hit.  They were both plays that happen regularly in the NHL.  Neither play is intended to injure another player.

The intent of Jones has to be taken into consideration.  The general consensus on the Jones hit was that he was not attempting to injure Bergeron.   There are a few out there who disagree with this, but most people who watch a lot of hockey tend to agree on this point (and so does Colin Campbell, apparently).  Further penalizing a player based on the resulting injury when there is no intent to injure, is the most illogical argument I’ve ever heard.

I am going to say this loudly and clearly:  I DO NOT BLAME PATRICE BERGERON FOR THE HIT HE TOOK FROM JONES.  But, this does not mean that Bergeron does not have some responsibility for his own safety.  I am not even going to address whether Bergeron turns to make himself more vulnerable.  That’s not what this is about.  I am referring to how players coming into the league these days are conditioned to feel safe and do not always act in the best interest of their own safety.  Bergeron was raised in a hockey environment where children wear Stop signs on their backs to remind each other not to check from behind.  In this environment, it goes without saying that children will stop worrying about getting hit from behind. 

If you look at the play on which Bergeron was injured, as he skating into the corner, he does not even take a peek over his shoulder to see if there was anyone bearing down on him.  He’s been conditioned over his lifetime not to worry about such things.  Ten years ago, you would be hard pressed to find a similar play where the player going after the puck did NOT take a peek to see where pressure may be coming from. 

Another consideration is that without the red line in play for 2 line pass offsides, there seems to be more propensity for teams to play dump and chase which leads to more heavy forechecks which leads to more hits from behind in an attempt to separate the puck from the defensemen.  It also seems that most of these checks from behind do not lead to penalty calls unless someone gets hurt. 

I don’t know what the answer is.  I don’t want to see Stop signs on the back of my favorite NHL players.  I also don’t want to see every single check being scrutinized for a possible penalty call, but the combination of factors; players conditioned to play without fear because of Stop signs and equipment that makes them feel invincible, and with the speed of today’s players, I feel fairly certain that more Bergeron type injuries are in our future unless the league figures this out.

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One Response to “Conspiracy Theorists Unite”

  1. Weighing in on Kostopolous « Hockeyschlock Says:

    […] in on Kostopolous I haven’t even seen the hit; I don’t have to.  The argument remains the same.  Players today do not look out for their own safety enough.  I know the […]

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