Hossa Controvesy Brings to Light a Bigger Issue

The Toronto War Room. Look it's Colin Campbell!

Yeah, its been a while since I’ve posted anything and its starting to get to me. School’s keeping me pretty wrapped up but just another 3 weeks and I’ll be back on the blogging train.

Anyways, in the midst of a heated playoff race in the NHL’s Western Conference Marian Hossa was awarded a controversial goal in Chicago’s game last night against the St. Louis Blues. A storied franchise in the league, the Hawks are fresh off a Stanley Cup Winning season after a lengthy championship drought.

Check out the video here and decide for yourself.

Seriously though, there’s not much decide. For one thing there’s an 87.83% chance that it’s not a goal but it was ruled a goal on the ice so without indisputable evidence you probably can’t overturn that. However, there is undoubtedly a distinct kicking motion, which even the hometown Chicago Blackhawk announcers point out. Distinct kicking motion means no goal whether it was over the line or not. Duh.

The big issue here though is that every single play that goes to video review is transferred over to the head office in Toronto where they go ahead and make the decision. The referee’s or an independent party isn’t making a decision. It’s the guys working for the NHL that have an agenda. The NHL already has problems generating viewership in the United States especially after their brutal decision a few years ago to take a bit of extra money from the Versus network instead of sticking with ESPN.

The Chicago Blackhawks are a clearly a team the NHL would love to have in the playoffs. They sit on the brink of playoff elimination. Not so much after tonight’s win. It isn’t out of the question that the NHL is willing to look the other way on a controversial goal such as this one and give the benefit of the doubt to a storied, marketable American franchise.

Do I sound paranoid? Maybe just a bit, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to put 2 and 2 together.

Goalie Ty Conklin wasn’t too happy about they call. He expressed a similar feeling in an interview after last night’s game saying that “They called it a goal on the ice, which is fine, that’s understandable. But the reason we have video replay is to get the right call. They’re probably going to make it into the playoffs anyway, but do we really have to make it that obvious that the league wants them in?”

What I think the NHL needs to change is having the infamous “war room” in Toronto making all the decisions on video replay reviews. They need the referees doing the decision-making, who most likely aren’t influenced, at least to the same degree, as some of those guys in Toronto. How can those guys in Toronto make an objective decision when you have Colin Campbell breathing down your neck?

I’ll admit that I really don’t know much about what goes on back there but I don’t understand why the referees aren’t making the decisions. The NFL has their refs making the calls on challenges so why don’t the referees, who actually call the game, possess the ultimate decision.

It’s ridiculous. Talk about conflict of interest. I mean, what if we had the NHL’s principal disciplinarian making the final call on suspensions that deal with his own son’s team. Oh wait, that already happens.

Having the head office in Toronto determining vital calls almost makes paying real money to see Charlie Sheen’s one man act seem logical. Almost.

This is not the first time something like this has happened either. The War Room in Toronto already takes 14 hours to decide on a call while it isn’t uncommon practice for them to butcher that very call. Nothing is going to be done about this but if the NHL wants to better it’s game this is something they need to look into. Hell, if they’re not going to fix the head shots what chance do we have of seeing a change with this.

Hey, if you took the time to read this sloppy post I want some feedback. Am I crazy? The NHL kind of pisses me off just generally so I thought I’d rant about it.

Follow me on twitter @paintstheblack too, you won’t regret it.

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NHL Trade Deadline Culture Change

Brad Richards headlined the not traded list following this year's NHL Trade Deadline

Even though the 2011 version of Canada’s second Christmas ended up being more like my great aunt’s birthday party, it may have signalled the beginning of a new culture in the NHL.

The NHL and NBA essentially switched positions this year as it was the NBA drawing headlines from a flurry of deadline deals. Generally, the NHL trade deadline is filled with intense madness as the clock strikes 3, with every Canadian sports channel and website giving you up to the minute updates and analysis on the most recent happenings around the league.

The lack of flare from this year’s trade deadline could be explained by the short supply of marquee and impact players on the trading block. That’s the easy explanation.

It seems to me though that the increasing acquisition of rental players by teams in recent years not translating to playoff success has led General Managers to realize the downfall of selling the farm for 2 months of a star player that you will most likely be unable to retain in the off-season. It has become apparent that, in the new millennium, past Stanley Cup Winning teams have not been forced to make major acquisitions in order to take home a title.

Whether it’s the inability for the acquired player to mesh well with the current roster, the team’s roster simply not being good enough, or luck being the cause of the failure of rental players, NHL front offices have taken notice.

This year’s most prominent moveable asset was soon to be free agent forward Brad Richards of the Dallas Stars who currently sits 8th in league scoring. The Dallas Stars are very much in the playoff race, sitting at 8th in the Western conference coincidentally, and the dilemma of trading or keeping Richards had caused the price for the Star forward to be quite steep.

The New York Rangers, who were rumoured to be the front-runners in the Brad Richards sweepstakes, would have had to pay a pretty penny to attain him. It didn’t happen. The Rangers decided to continue with their strategy of building around their young core of players.

Well, it’s about time.

In 2008, deadline day acquisition Marian Hossa was a key component in the Pittsburgh Penguin’s run to the Stanley Cup Final. It sure worked out for the Pens in 2008, but more often than not we see the teams that take on rental player’s finish their season more like Peter Forsberg and the Nashville Predators did in 2007. The Predators gave up Ryan Parent, Scottie Upshall, as well as their 1st and 3rd round picks for Forsberg and were eventually ousted by the San Jose Sharks in the first round. Through the beauty of hindsight we see that in actuality the trade was not all that bad. Nevertheless, it’s the process that counts not the result.

The overwhelming amount of failed deadline day shake-ups appears to have had a significant effect on the NHL. Teams are starting to place more importance on keeping prized prospects and quality draft picks while acquiring the steady, bottom 6 players that could be that slight difference between Lord Stanley and a 12:30 tee time.

Even the Toronto Maple Leafs and Brian Burke have shifted gears. Prior to the common insanity that accompanies the trade deadline, Burke traded away proven current NHLers Tomas Kaberle and Kris Versteeg in exchange for prospects and draft picks. Much to everyone’s surprise, Burke stood pat on deadline day.

There was only one striking trade this year with Dustin Penner’s tenure in oil town coming to a close. The Los Angeles Kings gave up first round draft pick Colten Teubert (13th overall) in addition to their 1st and 3rd draft picks to attain the 28-year-old power forward.

The number 1 seed Vancouver Canucks acquired Christopher Higgins and Maxim Lapierre, a couple of veteran depth forwards, in return for some minor prospects and mid-round draft picks.

This feeling of the need for a top defenseman or renowned forward seems to be slowly deteriorating and the 2011 trade deadline could very well be the start of this changing philosophy around the NHL.

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. You can also follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favor.

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