I am puzzled.
As I understand things, the only reason that Wayne Simmonds did not receive some sort of discipline from the NHL is that the league was unable to determine whether he called Sean Avery a faggot because he denied it and none of the on-ice officials heard anything.
I saw in my Twitter feed yesterday that Aaron Ward said that everyone in the league uses the word during games and everyone in the league has been called a faggot at one point or another. This would fit with my own experience with minor hockey in a small prairie town and the sorts of things that get said on ice; my current league is filled with lawyers and bankers; the sorts of people who’ve had the ideals of sensitivity training drilled into them through university and workplaces.
What puzzles me though, is this: if you can be disciplined for calling someone a faggot and people call each other faggots all the time, how in the world is there not a steady stream of $2,500 cheques being sent to the league’s head office? How in the world are there not guys being suspended as repeat offenders> Sure, in this case, none of the referees or linesmen heard anything but if the word’s used as much as Aaron Ward (and my own experience playing hockey with the sorts of guys who make up the NHL) suggests, referees and linesmen must hear it all the time. Do they include it in their post-game reports?
It strikes me that the NHL is probably speaking with a forked tongue when it comes to condemning this sort of stuff. The rule isn’t “Don’t call someone a faggot” or there would be massive amounts of supplementary discipline; referees and linesmen must hear this stuff. The real rule is “Don’t get caught calling someone a faggot in circumstances in which we can’t pretend there’s doubt about what you said, even with our officials claiming not to have heard anything.” I’m actually kind of wondering if an NHL official has ever confirmed that someone used a slur – looking at the Grier/Simon business, it appears that Simon confessed.
Incidentally, I’m not sure that this is a bad thing. The NHL is in the business of producing exciting hockey games, not instilling young men with the social norms needed to work in downtown Toronto. If Taylor Hall uses a word that’s acceptable within his peer group and gets suspended for a game during an Oilers’ playoff hunt, as an Oilers’ fan, I’d be a little irritated. Maybe that’s unreasonable of me, but I don’t really care whether these guys are decent people. I’ve got no problem with naming them and subjecting them to condemnation from the press but I’ve a hard time seeing how it should impact on what happens on the ice.
Terry Jones at the Sun:
“Are you aware of the incredibly high percentage of the population which wants to see Devan Dubnyk opening the season in goal and being No. 1 this season?” your correspondent asked head coach Tom Renney.
“Pretty aware,” responded Renney.
“And your thoughts?”
“I’m the coach. I’m aware of that, too.”
I don’t agree with everything that Lowetide writes about hockey and at first glance, I found his reasonable expectations for Nikolai Khabibulin’s 2011-12 season to be awfully pessimistic in the GP department. TEN games played?
It turns out that old LT, without even delving into the numbers, came up with a reasonably astute guess. I drew up a little comparator group for Khabibulin by looking at the next season for goalies in the following situation: on a team with two goalies playing at least 1500 minutes in the preceding season over the past twenty years where one goalie finished more than .020 ahead of the other in save percentage. This gave me 37 guys, not counting six from last year (three of whom – JS Giguere, Dan Ellis and Marty Turco – have been sent on to greener pastures.)
With that said, 20 of them got zero minutes for the same team the following season. The norm, you could quite reasonably say, is to get rid of guys who are so clearly the second best choice. The average was 642 minutes (or, about ten games, just like Lowetide predicted). If you exclude the guys who got zero though, you bump the average to 1397 minutes against an average of 1997 minutes in the season in which they were clearly second best.
Only nine guys played more than 1000 minutes for the same team after a season in which they were so clearly the second best option – the list is at left. Looking at it, you can see that only four guys could be called clear number ones the following season: McLean, Hedberg, Healy and Emery. Emery and Healy were young and Emery’s inclusion on the list is arguably unfair – he was playing behind Dominik Hasek in 2005-06 and even Mario Lemieux would be a number two centre on a team with Gretzky. I suspect that Hedberg keeps showing up on this list because because Kari Lehtonen kept breaking; not by design so much as by circumstance. McLean was an established number one goalie for the Canucks when he had his troubles and was shortly removed from a run to the Stanley Cup finals. It’s not surprising that the Canucks kept giving him rope.
My point – and I do have one – is that it’s unusual for a guy in Khabibulin’s position to even be back with his team, let alone be the presumptive starting goaltender. The gap in performance between he and Dubnyk was so stark that similar gaps in the last 20 years have, more often than not, led to guys being disappeared. It would be exceedingly unusual for him to come anywhere close to Dubnyk in terms of TOI this year – every time that’s happened, . We don’t yet know what’s going to happen because Renney is playing his cards close to his vest, perhaps understandably so but if – and this is a significant if – Khabibulin comes anywhere near to Dubnyk in terms of TOI this season barring a reversal in their respective fortunes, I think it’s fair to start wondering if the Oilers are even trying to win hockey games.