I wrote earlier this season about the relationship between Brian Burke, Ron Wilson, and the Toronto media, or lack thereof. My opinion has been unchanged about this since about the begining of time, that the media is the avenue between the team and the fans. When this relationship is not good, the people that really suffer are the paying customers which the NHL still does not have enough of. It is with the same theme which I write this today.
The one minute press conferences and refusal to answer any question posed by John Tortorella are completely unacceptable. This is clearly a shot at the people down the street that have fined him $30 thousand this season for comments deemed inappropriate, but in spite of this he still has an obligation to the fans and media to answer questions. This act is cute and funny right now, but when the team stops winning he will find out how many people are amused.
The play of the Phoenix Coyotes this playoff round has been impressive, with the desert dogs winning their first playoff series in a decade and closing in on their second rapidly. Even more impressive is that the team is doing to against a predators team that was expected to at least challenge for the conference championship and possibly a stanley cup. While I still don’t believe that they will be around much longer than this summer, it’s hard not to be happy for them right now.
Los Angeles Flyers
The makeover of the Philadelphia Flyers over the summer sent 2 pieces to Los Angeles directly, and 1 made his way to the left coast indirectly through a trade with the Blue Jackets. However they got there, both Richards and Carter are working hard to prove wrong the reputation they earned in Philadelphia as guys that couldn’t focus in the playoffs. The Kings alreade have upset the Presidents Trophy winning canucks and are working hard to do the same to the upstart Blues. With these 2 on fire, a Stanley Cup parade down Hollywood Boulevard doesn’t seem quite as far fetched.
There really is no way to tell what Dale Hunter is thinking with his minutes distribution so far in the second round, but if he continues to keep the great eight on the bench for two thirds of the game, he will likely not return. This was always a possibility, and he may not return by choice any way as he really doesn’t look happy behind the bench. Much worse for the Capitals is that Ovechkin looks equally displeased with his current situation, and that is not good for hockey. While his antics have been aggrevating at times, he is no doubt an electric player with more talent that most of the players on either side of the ice in this current series. He’s never going to be the most complete player, but with the amount of ice time that he is currently getting, he’s not going to be a player at all.
NBC Deserves Credit
As critical as I have been in the past about the NHL’s current national broadcast partner, NBC has done a more than capable job in this years playoffs. The games have all been available nationally, and the broadcasters have generally been good. With this kind of improvement, hopefully it will continue into next season from October through April.
Dead Puck Era Returns
Many may disagree, but the game is slowly creeping back in time into the slow trapping clutch and grab style game that cost the league a lot of fans. It would be unfair to make this comparison of each series, but some nights you can count the scoring chances on one hand. The officiating plays a small part in this, as the Don Cherry philosophy of “let em play” in the playoffs is very apparent some games. Everybody knows that special teams were never intended to be included in challenging for a championship, right? This mentality is old and tired. The NHL doesn’t even have to change any rules to fix it, just start enforcing the ones that are already on the books.
Luongo To Leafs Vol. 397
For all those that think there is absolutely no possibility that Brian Burke kicks the tires at possibly acquiring the goaltender, ask yourself this question: Would it even be the craziest thing that he has ever done? Even since joining the Leafs front office, Burke has been involved in such high profile mistakes as signing Brett Lebda, Mike Komisarek, and retaining Vesa Toskala. Burke will without a doubt inquire about Luongo as he will about Rick Nash and many other desirable targets.