Although the NHL’s regular season is drawing to a close, your Ask Adam questions keep on coming at a steady pace. As always, if you don’t see your question answered here, be sure to check out the mailbag Qs and As I post in THN magazine and on THN Radio. Thanks, and enjoy round one of the playoffs.
Adam, (1) Are you surprised that almost nothing has been said about Jaromir Jagr tying Phil Esposito's NHL record for game-winning goals? (2) Why do you think the NHL allows Vancouver’s Green Men to harass players in the penalty box?
John Wickner, Riverside, Calif.
To answer your first question: no, I’m not really surprised to see Jagr’s achievements get little fanfare. This is a player who, even at his peak, never has been fully embraced by all corners of the game. In some ways, he has himself to blame: when you’ve spoken out as many times as Jagr has – often putting his foot in his mouth – it takes some of the luster off your personal brand.
And when you bounce between teams and leagues the way Jagr has later in his career, people tend to think less of you (fairly or not) than they would if you remained in one uniform your entire career. That said, Jagr’s reputation improved after his one season as a Philadelphia Flyer – and now you’d have a hard time finding a young player/teammate who would say a bad word about him. He’s a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer and one of the greatest talents of all time.
As for your second question, I wouldn’t say the Green Men harass penalized players any more than does the average, boozed-up fan. They’re more creative and prominent, but people try whatever they can (within reason) to throw players off their game all the time.
If the Green Men were to jump in the box, or dump a beer on a player, they’d be ejected and charged with an offense like anyone else. We just notice them more because of the color of their outfit and the fact they have no faces.
Adam, in recent years the incidents of diving have increased and NHL refs must make instant judgments based on a player lying on the ice. In order to reduce the refs' responsibility, I think a 'four-second rule' should be instituted: meaning, if a player remains down on the ice for more than four seconds, he will be removed from the game for medical evaluation and cannot return until the next game. My thinking is that the player who is seriously hurt will be protected and the other category of player will think twice about winning an Academy Award. What do you think?
Denise Curadi Cheshire, Conn.
Yours is an interesting proposition, but one I can’t see ever being adopted by the NHL or any pro league, for that matter. Players are known for suffering serious injuries, but battling through them – often without missing a single shift. Under your plan, they’d be spirited away in the blink of an eye the moment they dropped to the ice in agony.
If you’ve ever taken a slapshot off the foot, you know the pain is incredibly intense, but does subside eventually. No player can be faulted for succumbing to that first jolt of anguish, but we celebrate them (and rightfully so) for fighting through those episodes of searing pain.
The way to curb diving is the same way to curb any on-ice action you don’t like: harsher penalties. Anything else puts you into a muddy world of trying to discern intent – and that never works.
Adam, is it me or does every visiting team that plays the Canadiens at the Bell Centre in Montreal get shafted by the officiating? The crowd calls the game. It is so obvious that it makes me change channels and watch something that is not so phony like the WWE. Detroit is a close second. If Montreal did not have close to 200 power play chances they would at the bottom of the standings where they deserve to be.
Jim Madsen, St. Stephen, N.B.
It’s funny that you mention the Bell Centre specifically, as comedian Bill Burr said the very same thing on THN Radio a couple weeks ago. However, I don’t agree.
This is the time of season when everybody harps on the officials and I’ve been tired of that attitude for years. Now, I will say that this season has had more than its share of terrible/blown calls and I think the amount of obstruction you see on any given night is still far too much.
I think increasing the scope of video replay would help the zebras, but I’ll always go back to my main belief about the officials: they work in a subjective field and they’re human beings who make mistakes. If there were an island filled with better referees and linesmen, I’d encourage the NHL to go there post-haste and hire all of them.
But the truth is, there are no better officials than the ones the league has at present. All teams know that calls will go against them at times and the best teams overcome them. That’s something to remember in the weeks to come.
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