In this week’s online THN mailbag, Adam Proteau answers questions on Rick Nash’s work ethic, performance-enhancing drug use in the NHL, trading injured players, and more.
After a month’s hibernation, the THN online mailbag is back. If you’re new to the routine, you submit questions here and I answer them either here or in THN magazine. Thanks to those who continued sending in questions in my absence. Here’s this week’s batch:
Adam, after watching the “60 Minutes” TV feature on the Alex Rodriguez/steroids scandal, I was curious. Could there be any kind of performance-enhancing drug use in the NHL?
Chris Small, North Vancouver, B.C.
The NHL doesn’t believe its players have a culture of PED-dependence, but as Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said in the summer, it would be naïve to think some players aren’t using some stimulant to give them an on-ice edge. Considering the NHL has stated publicly it won’t test for the presence of Human Growth Hormone until at least the 2014-15 season, any player is free to use it without penalty.
The NHL isn’t completely Wild West territory for PED use – the 2013 collective bargaining agreement with the NHLPA includes random tests for substances (other than HGH) banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency – but it also isn’t the pro sports industry leader on the issue. So yes, there’s a better-than average chance some kind of PED activity exists.
My husband and I have noticed there are ads that are up on the glass in the different hockey arenas. This sounds like a stupid question, but how do the people sitting behind those ads see what’s happening on the ice? Thank you.
Cami J. Cutler, Vincennes, Ind.
The advertising banners you’re referring to don’t block anyone’s view, because they’re virtual ads visible only to TV viewers. These types of revenue generators are now common in all major sports as teams and leagues wring every possible dollar out of every area of the playing surface and/or surrounding areas. Ultimately, they add to the clutter and chip away a little more of the attention that should be on the game itself, but they’re not going away.
I have been a NY Ranger fan for many years. I know: WHY? If I knew that I’d change. This season has been up and down. Their most successful run this season is without Rick Nash. I believe Nash is a talented hockey player that lacks heart. If he misses a pass or loses the puck he normally makes a big rink turn and makes no immediate pursuit of the puck. I‘m sure his hardworking teammates also recognize his lack of intensity. What are your thoughts Adam?
David Garmendia, Pine Bush, N.Y.
While this clearly hasn’t been Nash’s best year – and to be honest, I wouldn’t have included him on Team Canada’s Olympic squad if I were choosing the team – I don’t think it’s fair to say he lacks heart or work ethic. Remember, last season he was very close to the point-per-game pace he often played at all those years in Columbus.
In my experience, bigger players such as Nash are naturally slower getting up and down the ice and that is mistakenly perceived as them not giving it their all. Do you really think Canadian Olympic team architect Steve Yzerman would risk his homeland’s chances at a gold medal by picking someone who loafed around the ice surface? I don’t.
Quick question: can a player be traded while injured if the team has the player’s permission? In other words, if a player suffers a month-long injury just before the trade deadline, but wants to be traded to a contender, is there any way it can be done? Thanks!
Brandon Sparks, Fredericton, N.B.
Injured NHL players cannot be traded. The question of getting a player’s permission for a trade takes us into a grey area – who’s to say a team wouldn’t exert undue pressure on a player to grudgingly accept their terms of a trade? – which is why the rule is so clear.
It’s the same principle for contracts: I’m sure there could be situations where the player and team want to extricate themselves from a cumbersome deal (just ask Roberto Luongo or Wade Redden), but the potential for chicanery necessitates a strict approach. The more leeway you give teams, players, agents and GMs, the more they push their luck.
Ask Adam appears Fridays on THN.com. Ask your question on our submission page. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Adam on Twitter at @ProteauType.