In this week’s mailbag, Adam Proteau answers questions on the Oilers and Panthers struggles, the different values placed on NHL headgear and the destination of monies collected from the league’s suspensions and fines.
It’s Friday again and you know what that means: It’s not one of the other days. It’s also mailbag time. Thanks to all who submitted a question. If you feel the urge, you can submit inquiries here.
Now, onto this week’s batch.
We know it takes time to rebuild a franchise. Edmonton and Florida are in that position now. Edmonton has flunked the season so far and I’m curious why they can’t make progress. Is it the management? Team chemistry? They’ve had the opportunities to make adjustments and obtain quality players but they appear to have no clear direction or idea on how to move up in the standings.
Derek Davis, London, Ont.
First of all, you mentioned the Panthers and you definitely have to include them in the list of season-flunkers thus far. They fired coach Kevin Dineen Friday morning – and veteran observers of that franchise know exactly why: constant turnover and a patchwork collection of veterans that shows no sign of gelling into a formidable unit. Like the Oilers, Florida has some impressive young talent in the system – but also like the Oilers, they haven’t figured out how to put that all together.
If there were only one thing that either the Panthers or Oilers could identify as the sole obstacle to the post-season, they would’ve done so many years ago. But pro sports doesn’t work that way. It’s more like constructing a dam that you’re never all that certain about; yes, you can stick your finger in a hole that forms in the dam one season, but there’s no guarantee that another hole won’t appear in a different spot.
So, although the Oilers thought all they needed was a handful of veterans to help guide their plethora of talented youngsters to new heights, this season has shown they need better performances in net and their special teams are sub-par. As far as the Panthers go, it appears that their miraculous playoff appearance in Dineen’s first season was an anomaly. Very little has gone right for the team since then, which is a good indication of how tough GM Dale Tallon’s challenge was going to be.
Both teams can look toward making cosmetic changes to their lineups, but I think the time is ripe for both to explore significant alterations to their core. That isn’t an assurance that a post-season appearance will follow for them this season or next, but that’s the nature of the business. Talent fluctuations, injuries and management all factor into what we all see in the final on-ice product – and although we can make educated guesses as to what the results will be, the truth is nobody has the Midas Ttouch with which they can correct all of a franchise’s past mistakes.
Can you explain the logic in allowing a player who accidently loses his helmet during the course of play to continue playing without it? All players must wear helmets for obvious reasons. They are now penalized if they remove them during a fight. Why not make the player accidently losing his helmet go directly to his bench without any contact with another player or immediately pick up his helmet and put it back on his head, again without any further contact with another player.
Ralph Saunders, Little River, S.C.
There’s a risk involved with keeping the play going, but it’s one the NHL Players’ Association’s membership appears comfortable with – at least, when it concerns forwards and defensemen. When a goalie’s mask comes off, the play is whistled dead immediately.
But it’s not so easy simply to implement one of your suggestions, because you’re not taking into account the competitive nature of players: firstly, not all players wear their helmets properly and the league would have to mandate stricter enforcement of how a player wears his chin strap. I’m not so sure the NHL Players Association will be crazy about that idea.
As well, if a player who had lost his helmet was forced to go to the bench, that would create a man advantage for the opposition. And that would mean players might try to knock or pull off a helmet in a scrum. That said, if a player is hurt when their helmet is off, the league will have to revisit the rule.
Adam, what happens to the money from NHL fines and suspensions?
Steve Woodward, Westport, Mass.
Supplemental discipline monies that are accumulated through each season are forwarded to the NHL/NHLPA’s players’ emergency assistance fund. There, the cash is given to former players and/or their families who are in need of help. So, even though the acts that put the money in the fund’s coffers aren’t to be proud of, the use of the money is quite admirable.
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.