All-Star shame?

4 times a year the 4 major North American sports put on an All-Star game, and 4 times a year sports reporters and broadcasters trip over themselves to be the loudest and most adamant with their disdain for all All-Star games.

“All-Star games are a waste of time!” we are told, and “All-Star games are nothing like a regular season game”. Not to mention the good old standby “There isn’t enough competitiveness in All-Star games!”

To these comments and this general sentiment I say:

 

 

REALLY?!?!?!?!

Oh no!  You mean to tell me that All-Star games are different than a normal game?  Not the same as a regular-season contest?  Dare I say they could even be described as special or unusual?

Isn’t that the point?

 

 

Why do these All-Star games get panned time and time again?  Can we not take them for what they are?  For what they are intended to be?  The very best of the best in a particular sport putting on an exhibition of skill….or, you know, showing off.  Somewhere along the line this has become insulting to those that cover sports.

For example, the NHL All-Star game, we are told, doesn’t have enough hitting, doesn’t have enough intensity, and the teams have almost no defensive game plan at all.  This is seen as a bad thing.  I guess the only thing we can do is have the All-Star coaches pick their own teams.  They can add as many checkers, defensive defencemen, and big hitters as they want. Furthermore, we can pause the regular season league schedule for two or three weeks so the two all-star teams can hold mini-training camps so that the respective coaching staffs can drill their defensive systems into the players so they are all on the same page.  Heaven forbid one of them be out of position briefly and give up a scoring chance!  

Ironically, many of these reporters that cry about the lack of competitiveness in NHL All-Star games also bemoan the lack of entertaining hockey in the regular season and that the entertainment value has been coached out of the game with coaches implementing rigid defensive systems choking out any offensive opportunities or creativity.

Yes, we aren’t going to see a lot of intensity in an All-Star game, because quite frankly, there really is no reason to “hate” the opposing team.  There isn’t a sense of team, or “us against them” because these players are flown in for 2 or 3 days.  Its just not going to happen.

What we do quite often see, however, is the top players in the game showing off some incredible skills that we more often than not wouldn’t be able to see too much of in a regular season game.  We get to see fantasy line combinations, best on best, one-upsmanship, and an out-of-this-world exhibition of skill unequaled in any other situation.

Let’s enjoy All-Star games for what they are and not saddle them with unreasonable expectations and compare them to regular season games, because, well..they’re not regular season games… and that’s a good thing!

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Hey Vancouver! How you Doan?

Now that free-agent frenzy has become a bit , well, less frenzied, and now that the Canucks’ signing of Jason Garrison has been digested, dissected, and discussed ad infinitum by the local hockey fans, and now that the Luongo trade rumours seem to have leveled off, at least while he was in Vegas for a poker tournament, the big news in Canuck land is the possible signing of one Shane Doan.

Yes, the local hockey world has turned its focus on acquiring Shane Doan, with Canucks fans getting a collective “Doaner Boner”.  This time last week one barely heard anyone mentioning  the possibility of the Canucks’ interest in Shane Doan, but after his agent’s interview on a local radio station and his stating that Vancouver is ‘definitely in the mix’, that seems to be all anyone wants to talk about.

It would appear that Doan and his agent haven’t completely turned out the lights on a return to Phoenix, but the mere fact that they are openly shopping his services around the NHL is telling.  It is my opinion that the Canucks will be on the outside looking in once Doan signs, but I think they will be seriously considered for a number of reasons.  I just don’t think Mike Gillis will be willing to offer more than 2, maybe 3, years while other teams will be.

Wherever he does end up, it will be big news, and I expect a flurry of signings by the other teams on his list once he does sign.

we now resume our regularly scheduled sports blog

Hello readers.  After a brief (over 2 years!), and productive hiatus, your humble blogger has returned to continue posting quality entertaining and topical bloggery.

It would seem I have a little catching up to do.

Since my last post, the Vancouvr Canucks have gone to the Stanley Cup final and took the Boston Bruins to Game 7 before losing in spectacular fashion 4-0 on home ice sparking the City of Vancouver’s SECOND “Stanley Cup Riot” in less than 20 years.

The Vancouver WhitecapsFC gained entry into and are competing in the MLS.  Having been to a couple of games, I am pleasantly impressed with both the entertainment value and the competitiveness of the club.

The BC Lions, after starting the season 0-5 are the defending Grey Cup Champions beating the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on their home field under the new BCPlace retractable roof.

2 years of blogging to make up for.  Your humble blogger will be looking to comment on several topics in days to come.  Thanks for reading and stay tuned.

Geroy Simon

Geroy Simon

Geroy Simon shown here moments after becoming the CFL’s all time receiving yardage leader

Categories: Uncategorized

Random Thoughts: Volume I

After watching games 2 & 3 in the Western Conference Semi-Final between the Vancouver Canucks and the Chicago Blackhawks, and virtually all of the series they played last year, I’m left to wonder:

1) Why is the ice in front of the Canucks net painted blue?  Isn’t that kind of a waste of blue paint?

2) If pushing the goalie out of the way and tucking the puck into the empty net, or simply ramming the goalie and the puck into the back of the net are supposedly acceptable and legal ways of scoring goals…why doesn’t Dustin Byfuglien get 60 goals every year?

3) If every team employed this way of producing offense, and the league allowed EVERY team to do it we would probably have 30 or 40 goals every game and 60 or 70 goalies on the Injured Reserve List by the end of the season.

The Montreal Canadiens’ effort level is at least double that of any other team’s in these playoffs.

PK Subban is gonna be some kinda special player

Steve Nash is a beast…he is literally WILLING his team to victory…they are now calling him “Cyclops” for his one-eyed effort in eliminating the Spurs in game4…a team they have lost in the playoffs to 4 times since 2003…this might be his last chance at a championship and I wouldn’t bet against him–even against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers (as long as the refs stay out of the way…and thats a BIG IF)

Sami Salo has a reputation for getting injured easily…after taking a shot to the “nether regions” and reportedly having a ruptured testicle, I’m gonna give him a pass on that one as I would probably miss 8-10 weeks minimum if it happened to me…

The Boston Bruins were up 3 games to 0 over the Philadelphia Flyers now its 3-2 with Game6 coming up in Philadelphia…wow…if Boston can’t close it out in Philly, I don’t like their chances in Game7.  This could be historic.

The Sharks did get a LOT of help from the refs in the first 3 games against Detroit in my opinion, but they did deserve to win the series.  However, for the record Game 1: 2 VERY questionable calls in the 3rd period leading to a 2-man advantage that produced the game winner Game 2: 2 somewhat questionable calls in the 3rd period leading to a 2-man advantage that produced the game tying goal. Game 3: A crucial goal by Henrik Zetterberg called back on yet another baffling video review

Of course these are all coincidences and refs are human and make mistakes….but if I’m a Red Wings fan I’m thinking “couldn’t at least one of those mistakes be in our favour?” Just saying…

After seeing the Zetterberg  goal called back and the Daniel Sedin goal called back in the first round for much the same reason…I’m beginning to think someone at the NHL’s head office needs to buy a dictionary and look up the words “distinct” and “kick”…aw, hell…why don’t I help them out here:

distinct:  clear to the senses or intellect; plain; unmistakable

kick:  to make a rapid, forceful thrust with the foot or feet

Watch the video(s), read the definitions…nuff said.

Nobody knows what the NHL’s rules are from game to game.  They seem to change by the minute.  The NHL and its officials have been badly exposed, in my opinion, as inconsistent and directionless.  In one game, a player can skate by a goalie and slightly touch him and have a goal disallowed as we saw in Game7 of the Montreal v Washington series and in another game the goalie can be sat on, cross-checked, pushed into the back of the net and slashed resulting in multiple goals without even a second glance.   The fact of the matter is…NOBODY knows what the rules are anymore.  Since the “new NHL rules” came out EVERYTHING can be considered a penalty, but the refs don’t HAVE to call it…what? couldn’t that lead to a lot of confusion and inconsistency?  Well, it is Bettman’s NHL, so…

You can follow Sporting Vancouver on Twitter

Canucks v Blackhawks II

Drunk Kane

Drunk Kane

Well its gonna happen.  The much awaited playoff rematch between the Vancouver Canucks and the Chicago Blackhawks.  Last year, also in the second round, the Chicago Blackhawks crashed their way to a 6 game series win over the Canucks.  This, along with a number of personal battles between players on both teams should allow for one hell of a series.

The Canucks will tell you that they felt they should have won last year, that they feel they are the better team, and if they stay out of the box and learn from last year’s mistakes they should win the series rematch.

The Blackhawks will tell you that they can get into Luongo’s head, can tame the twins, and should have no problem skating circles around the Canucks defense.

Sporting Vancouver will tell you that if the referees do their job and call goaltender interference EVEN ONCE in this series, something that seemed to, inexplicably, perplex them in last year’s series, the Vancouver Canucks should have enough to exact revenge against their rivals.  However, if the refs allow Byfuglien and the Hawks forwards to use Luongo as a bean-bag chair as they did with impunity last year then the Canucks, again, will be up against it.  It seemed as though Chicago scored at least 90% of their goals with Luongo shoved into the back of his net with one or two Blachawk forwards dog-piled on top of him.  Somehow, this drew no attention from the referees whatsoever.  Alain Vigneualt and his team better hope things will be different this year.

So far, it looks as though the league is determined to allow the goalies a chance to remain on their feet and attempt to stop shots.  We saw the Kings called for goaltender interference 3 times in the last series.  We also saw a Washington Capitals goal disallowed in a close game 7 because one of the Caps players allegedly grazed Montreal goaltender Jiroslav Halak’s toe preventing him from making a save.  Now, I’m positive Luongo won’t get anywhere near that kind of protection from the referees in this series…but if he gets at least some protection the Blackhawks will have to find a way to get shots past Luongo instead of just shooting the puck into the empty net after pushing him out of the way.

This series will be a long one.  This series will be a tough one.  It will be entertaining and will probably be the best of the 4 conference semi-finals.  We will see plenty of Byfuglien v Luongo, and maybe some Alberts v Byfuglien or O’Brien v Byfuglien.  We’ll definitely see some Kane v Kesler, and probably some Kane v Ladd.  Of course Burrows v Kjalmarsson and Samuelsson v Niemi.  I’m thinking there will be a pretty good tag-team match between the Sedins and Keith & Seabrook.  Mitchell v Toews would have been nice but Mitchell is still out.  Of course we will see Vigneault v Quenville II, which should be a good one…I just hope we don’t see Refs v Canucks II…cuz that would suck.

Yes, Canucks v Blackhawks II will be a toe-to-toe, knock him down, drag him out, grudge match between two of the best, most dynamic teams in the NHL.  Round 1 goes Saturday in Chicago.  DING-DING!

You can follow Sporting Vancouver on Twitter

Round 2: Here we go again…

With the Montreal Canadiens  Game7 victory, and improbable comeback from down 3 games to 1, against the Washington Capitals, the Eastern Conference playoff picture has been turned on its ear with the top 3 seeds being eliminated.  The Western Conference, however, has played out more to form with no upsets–unless you consider the 5th place Detroit Red Wings, who made it to the finals the last 2 years and won it all 2 years ago, beating the upstart  4th place Phoenix Coyotes an upset.

As we set up for the 2nd round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it is important to point out a few things.  For starters, both of last year’s finalists, the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins, are still alive and should be considered favorites despite the fact they finished 4th and 5th in their respective conferences…at least until someone beats them, which I don’t see happening in this next round.  I am pretty sure Joe Thornton and the San Jose Sharks will wake up and remember that they’re Joe Thornton and the San Jose Sharks and produce yet another epic playoff fail.  In the East, giant killers Montreal face another giant, but this time the giant sees them coming and knows how to handle them.

In the other 2 series I expect to see a couple of serious battles.  Boston Bruins v Philadelphia Flyers should be a physical battle with 2 of the biggest, meanest defensemen in the league in Chris Pronger and Zdeno Chara  patrolling their respective zones.  In the West we will see a grudge match that has been brewing since last year’s 6 game bloodbath that saw the Chicago Blackhawks dispatch the Vancouver Canucks in 6 games.  Look for the Canucks to do a better job this year of protecting the area around Roberto Luongo and be much better able to match Chicago’s scoring, thus returning the favour and knock out the Blackhawks in 6 games.  In the East, Marc Savard’s return to the Bruins should be enough to lead them to victory over the Flyers, but expect a long series in that one.

In about 2 weeks time we will be looking at an Eastern Conference Final between Marc Savard’s Boston Bruins and the Pittsburgh Penguins as well as a Western Conference battle between the Detroit Red Wings and the Vancouver Canucks.

You can follow Sporting Vancouver on Twitter

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.