NHL Needs Sid the Kid

Forget the magic of Tim Tebow. Sidney Crosby returned to the NHL on Monday Night and was nothing short of magical.

It was another one of those “wouldn’t believe it if it was in a movie” moments in sports. After 11 months off from one of the most talked about injuries in NHL history, Sidney Crosby scored his 1st goal of the season on his first NHL shot in 11 months. Crosby didn’t stop there as he racked up 4 points total on the night, adding another goal and 2 assists. This was not only a special performance but it was incredibly heart-warming for anyone born with a soul.

I guess special is as special does.

Hockey is a Canadian sport though and south of the border it often doesn’t generate much more buzz than a bowling tournament featuring Norm Duke and Walter Ray Williams Jr. Okay, maybe a bit of an exaggeration but the point is Crosby’s long-awaited return from his mysterious concussion has produced more than a bit of a noise in the United States.

While the ‘Welcome Back Sid” hash tag may not have been trending on twitter as it was in Canada, Crosby’s comeback illustrates how important one man can be to the world of star-driven professional sports.

With Alexander Ovechkin in an extended slump, the NHL has been absent of a true superstar for the past half-year. No matter how good the games are, no matter how good the playoffs have been and no matter how many games the Stanley Cup goes, nothing can fill the void left by an injured superstar of Crosby’s magnitude. Unlike football and basketball, the game of hockey lacks household names. Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, that’s it.

No Sidney Crosby equals big problems.

Sidney Crosby’s identity and life is hockey. There must have been a point in the last 11 months where he thought he might have been without the only thing he has ever known. Sure, Sidney Crosby needs hockey. However, there’s no doubt that the NHL needs Sidney Crosby more than Crosby needs the NHL.

Sid the Kid is the poster boy for the NHL. He can be as exciting as a peanut butter sandwich sometimes but his ultimate good guy reputation more than makes up for that. My grandmother is as likely to have Sidney Crosby as her favourite (non-hometown) player as that greasy guy sitting at the corner of the bar. His stardom reaches all.

Crosby is a ratings booster. Everyone knows Sid.

In this day and age of ever decreasing scoring and ever increasing trap hockey, Sidney Crosby is one of the few reasons to tune into a hockey game. The only people happier right now than the Pittsburgh Penguins are the executives at NBC and Versus. If Sidney Crosby can return to the NHL as good or, dare I say, better than ever, it will be almost impossible to keep him out from being mentioned in the elite company of players like Orr, Lemieux and Gretzky. Once in a generation talents don’t come around every day.

It took quite a lengthy period of time but Crosby looks to have come back at the right time. Sheriff Shanny has finally implemented the absolutely necessary harsher punishments for head shots that was lacking from Colin Campbell’s reign. The brutal head shots and concussions to go along with them seem to have significantly lowered in number this year. Amazingly, Dave Steckel, the man who essentially sidelined Sidney, wasn’t even suspended for his actions last season.

That won’t happen anymore.

The overabundance of bad press the NHL received over its handling of the head shots situation is gone and its most important entities are now much better protected.

11 months of NHL hockey without Sidney Crosby was tough. 11 more years of NHL hockey with Sidney Crosby sounds more like it.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will happily return the favour.

Subscribe to my blog too and you can get the latest posts such as The Magic of Tim Tebow

The Magic of Tim Tebow

There’s the magic of Tim Tebow. Mike Mayock said it and everyone else watching Thursday night’s game against the Jets was thinking it.

Tim Tebow did his thing in the final 5 minutes of the game. His team needed a field goal but in typical Tebow fashion, he drove down the field for a go-ahead touchdown. With 58 seconds left to play, Tebow put his team up by 4 points and for another week has silenced the critics.

OK, partially silenced.

Tim Tebow’s magic isn’t real. I’m still not buying it. His comebacks amaze me but it’s all smoke and mirrors. Tebow is giving America a great show. Maybe Las Vegas will give him a call soon. He could have one of those high-priced, fancy shows with all the extravagant lights and sounds.

The thing about all magic shows is that they are illusions. A good magic show will put you in awe, make you ask how in the name of Tebow did he do that but in the end you know you’re just getting fooled.

Tim Tebow has two things going for him: He has great feel for the game and he knows how to come through in the clutch.

I keep hearing that winning is the bottom line. Winning is not the bottom line. At least, winning the way Tim Tebow has is not the bottom line.

The bottom line is that Tim Tebow can’t play quarterback and win in the NFL.

He marched his team down the field for a game winning drive but he should never have had the opportunity to do so in the first place. Tim Tebow has taken advantage of his opportunities but the way he is playing, those opportunities shouldn’t be coming around as often as they have.

At some point, Tim Tebow’s luck is going to run out.

Mark Sanchez isn’t always going to be there to throw an unnecessary pick six. Matt Cassel won’t always be around to run a hapless offence. A matchup against the miserable Miami Dolphins squad that can’t recover an onside kick doesn’t come standard in the NFL.

If the Denver Broncos were any good offensively they would have blown those 3 teams out of the water.

His one decent outing against the Oakland Raiders came with a side of 3 interceptions courtesy of Carson Palmer.

I don’t care that Tim Tebow doesn’t have a group of good NFL receivers. If you can’t throw a 10 yard out on target then it doesn’t matter who you’re throwing the ball to. Tim Tebow was getting all day to throw against the Jets yet he was still having more trouble hitting his man than an out of football, overweight Jamarcus Russell.

I feel for John Elway. John Elway was clapping when Tebow scored the go-ahead touchdown but his eyes were filled with disappointment. He wants the Tebow experiment to fail and I don’t blame him. The way Tebow plays isn’t sustainable. He knows it.

John Elway knows that you can’t teach accuracy.

Related: What to Make of Mr. Tebow’s Wild Ride?

Cartoon steam comes out of John Elway’s ears whenever he sees Tebow throw the ball. His elongated motion is disgusting. It’s as if Tebow is throwing in epic movie hero slow motion. The problem for Timmy T is that the blitz doesn’t also come in slow motion.

With the Broncos next two games featuring the Chargers and Vikings, it’s entirely plausible that Denver could be sitting at 7-5 atop the AFC West going into their Week 14 game versus the Bears.

However, a 7-5 record still shouldn’t mean Bronco fans can be too optimistic. This unsustainable style of play is only stalling the inevitable realization they will either have to go in another direction or that Jesus…err Tebow needs to drastically improve. Emphasis on the drastically.

The 4-1 Broncos with Tebow as their starter simply means the Broncos most likely won’t be looking at Matt Barkley or Landry Jones come the 2012 draft.

4-1 doesn’t say anything about the Broncos ability to win playoff games, which, by the way, is something they won’t be able to do with Tebow. Squeaking out tight victories against weak teams, that does nothing more than put another notch in the legendary Tebow belt, doesn’t win Super Bowls.

There is no doubt a lot of magical talent within Tim Tebow. Unfortunately, Tebow’s weekly magic gig will soon run its course and it will be time for another act to take his place in the mile high city.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will happily return the favour.

Subscribe to my blog too and you can get the latest posts such as Peter Laviolette The Brave

Peter Laviolette The Brave

The 1-3-1 trap system of the Tampa Bay Lightning

Peter Laviolette is a rebel. He will become a hero.

Like all great rebels, Laviolette isn’t going to be well received by all. Like all great rebels, Laviolette made a bold and daring statement. Unlike all great rebels, Laviolette is fighting for a just cause.

He made his stand on Wednesday November the 9th of 2011. Write it down, take a picture, watch the video. The day will go down in history.

In an era of low scoring, big pads and boring trap defences, Peter Laviolette decided that enough is enough. To counter the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 1-3-1 defensive scheme, Laviolette told his defencemen to hold the puck in their own end and wait until a Lightning player came to get them. So they did it and no one came. After 30 seconds of holding onto the puck, the refs blew the play dead. Laviolette wasn’t phased. He did this a few more times in the 1st period.

To boot, Laviolette strategically chose to implement this plan, which I’m sure he has been concocting for a while, in front of the Lightning faithful. Away from home, to a chorus of boos, the Flyers held the puck in their own zone while the faithful Tampa Bay soldiers held their ground.

Peter Laviolette is frustrated and I don’t blame him.

Although trap hockey has been “around as long as the game itself” as TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie noted, the strategy has grown in popularity among coaches over the past decade. It has helped play a big part in the dull neutral zone dominated hockey we see on a day-to-day basis.

The Minnesota Wild’s, Nashville Predator’s, New Jersey Devil’s, Tampa Bay Lightning’s, St. Louis Blues and Columbus Blue Jackets of the world used to be few and far between.

But, as you can see from that extensive and incomplete list, trap hockey is far from uncommon in today’s NHL.

It’s sad that the epidemic has gotten so bad that Peter Laviolette felt he had to force his men to stand down and refuse to play the game they are paid to entertain us with just to make a point. It shouldn’t take a defiant act like this for the NHL to take notice. Darren Dreger, another TSN Hockey Insider, suggested that this 1-3-1 system will become a major topic at next week’s General Manager’s meeting. Bob McKenzie said that they have been talking about doing something for a while but haven’t gotten around to it.

Until now.

You can’t blame the coaches for trap hockey. They want to do whatever is best to keep their job.

This is the league’s problem to fix and, at this point, it doesn’t matter if it takes a rebel like Peter Laviolette to make them finally take notice.

Once again, this all goes back to the entertainment value of the game that the NHL, at times, seems to understand as much as I imagine Stevie Wonder does. Remember the ridiculously illogical skate in the crease rule preventing legitimate goals from a goal starved league? Remember the excessive hooking and holding that was left in the game for far too long?

Let the players play they say. That type of sweep the dirt under the rug attitude is exactly what is wrong with the league. Peter Laviolette rolled up the rug and threw it out the door last night. The dirt left out in the open for Gary Bettman and his lackeys to see.

Trap hockey is a big part of the reason why goal scoring is down in the NHL. I wrote a couple of weeks ago that the only solution to more goals is to reduce the pad size of goaltenders. I should rephrase that to the only easy fix to more goals is to reduce the pad size of goaltenders. Little did I know that an NHL coach would have the stones to implement such a defiant act.

It is quite possible that a pad size reduction would cause a lessening of trap hockey among coaches as goals would be easier to come by from longer distances and tougher angles.

Nevertheless, the solution to a quick fix to more goals may be easy but eliminating trap hockey is not. Finding a similar to the NBA 3 in the key type or the elimination of a zone defence is not nearly as simple in the game of hockey.

Personally, I don’t have a definitive solution but it would be well worth the NHL’s time to explore all possible options.

Up and down, run and gun hockey should not be a luxury that is enjoyed only on special occasions.

Best known in Vancouver for his West Coast Express line, Stanley Cup winning coach Marc Crawford said that “fans don’t want to watch that type of a system where nothing is happening. I think unfortunately this is absolutely something that the league will have to address.”

Can I get an amen!?

It is wrong for the NHL or fans to resist the Peter Laviolette led revolt. This is for the greater good of the game and the league. Laviolette made a mockery of trap hockey and truly exposed its massive flaws for everyone to see.

Today, Peter Laviolette is one brave rebel championing for an NHL that doesn’t feature garbage hockey on a regular basis.

One day, Peter Laviolette will be the brave rebel who began the shift back to real, entertaining hockey.

One day, Peter Laviolette will be the hero.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will happily return the favour.

Subscribe to my blog too and you can get the latest posts such as What Else Should We Expect?

What Else Should We Expect?

Joe Paterno is 84. His brain doesn’t work the same way it used to. Too bad that’s not a worthy excuse for his, once again, selfish decision today. The previously beloved coach announced that at the end of the season he would step down as the head coach of Penn State.

What a joke.

If it wasn’t certain that Joe Paterno doesn’t have anyone else’s interest in mind but his own already, then this announcement surely did it. JoePa does what is best for JoePa. It’s always been this way, except before the world never really knew it.

At his press conference, Paterno said that he wanted to finish his final season with “dignity and determination.” In case he didn’t know, that ship has sailed. It left the moment we found out all JoePa did when he was informed of the accusations toward Sandusky was to report it to the proper authority.

It’s hard to believe that Paterno could even think about finishing a football season at this point in time. Clearly, he still doesn’t have any remorse or regret for what he has done, or rather what he didn’t do. Penn State is 8-1 this season. JoePa wants to go out on a high note. In the grand scheme of things, football has become insignificant in the context of this devastating story for most of us.

Not JoePa though.

JoePa can’t even pretend like he cares. His best teary eyed bluff could have been detected by my 6-year-old cousin. Paterno said that “With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.” Yet, with the benefit of hindsight and those thick, horn-rimmed glasses, Paterno doesn’t see what he has done wrong. If he understood the magnitude of his inaction in this issue then he wouldn’t wait until the end of the season to step down.

It really doesn’t matter if Paterno steps down now but it’s the principle of the matter. To retire after a few more inconsequential football games instead of immediately stepping down, tells the rest of the world that JoePa probably hasn’t lost much sleep over the scandal.

JoePa only lost sleep because he was thinking about his tarnished legacy. JoePa only wishes he could have done more to make sure that this whole story never came out to ruin his beloved reputation. The only thing that’s a tragedy in this matter to JoePa is the fact that he can never go out on top of the College Football world.

409 meaningless freaking wins.

It’s like the old adage for criminals. They’re sorry, but sorry simply because they were caught.

Joe Paterno was caught for who he really is. He’s another iconic sports figure who is not made in the beautiful image that the fans and media have created. Brett Favre sexted and whined, Tiger Woods cheated several times, Lebron James is not the Chosen1 and Walter Payton wasn’t quite so sweet.

Joe Paterno had and still has no interest in the children he could have saved. This is the person that he is and, at 84, I guess there’s no reason we should expect him to give in to what everyone else not only thinks but knows he should do.

Joe Paterno isn’t retiring immediately and that’s just JoePa being JoePa.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will happily return the favour.

Subscribe to my blog too and you can get the latest posts such as Only One Solution to More Goals in the NHL

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,083 other followers

%d bloggers like this: