Hearty congratulations to the Canadian women’s hockey team on their Olympic gold medal win Thursday night – and additional kudos to the U.S. women’s team on their grace in defeat, as well as to the bubbly bronze medalists from Finland who are pioneers in their own right.
Oh, and a huge thumbs up to the crowd in attendance at the women’s gold medal game. Their chants of ‘USA!’ as the American women received their medals stands out as a personal highlight of the entire Vancouver Olympics. And it shows you the immaculate levels of class and goodwill that envelop the entire women’s game.
(And don’t even think about bringing up this ‘controversy’ regarding the Canadian women’s post-victory celebration. To paraphrase an old Gilbert Gottfried joke, if hockey players drinking beer is a crime, there are a crapload of Al Capones out there.)
On to your inquiries:
Mr. Proteau, what do you think will be the future of this game? I ask this because once again we see every little country going at these Olympics with a hot goaltender and a five-man defensive unit (I know there are some forwards, but they play defense almost all the time) and pray for one lucky break in which they surprise the ‘better’ team and find a way to score.
I’m not only referring to Team Canada’s shocking loss against the Americans, but for the last 10-15 years smaller countries (like Germany) played this style. And in the NHL many teams play this style. I for one think this kills the great game of hockey. Your thoughts please!
Bernard Krol, Assen, Netherlands
Your point is a solid one. Unfortunately, as the old saying goes, it is far easier for coaches to teach defense than offense, so we wind up with the game over-coached on the defensive end of things and under-coached on the offensive side.
Naturally, there are exceptions to the rule – Bruce Boudreau and Pat Quinn being two of the coaches who understand they have to entertain customers as well as win – but I think one of the biggest problems with the game, unfortunately, are the guys behind the bench and the micro-managing they employ to retain their jobs.
The more hockey’s gatekeepers can temper that influence, the more enjoyable the game will be.
Adam: When John Davidson was a broadcaster, he may have been the only one to pronounce Alex Kovalev’s name “KovaLOFF.” Bob Cole refers to Ilya Kovalchuk as “KovalCHOOK,” Robert Lang is often referred to as “Long” and it seems nobody knows how to pronounce “Cristobal Huet.”
My question is, why isn’t there a set of standards that all NHL broadcasters follow when calling games? You’d hate to think that veterans like Cole and Davidson were wrong, but since nobody else was pronouncing names like those two, somebody’s obviously getting them wrong.
My second question regards the NHL awards. Why haven’t the other major sports embraced the annual awards night like the NHL has? MLB hands out awards via newswire releases, while the NFL and CFL hand them out before their seasons are even over! Is there a special camaraderie between hockey players that other athletes just don’t have or is no U.S. network interested in airing one?
Thanks, Adam, and keep up the great work. P.S. I miss the “separated at birth” feature in THN. Will you guys ever bring it back?
Steve Dicker, Paradise, Nfld.
I believe the NHL still distributes a list of players to broadcasters and those lists include the phonics involved with each of their names, so there really should be no excuses. Now, sometimes the official pronunciations wind up being incorrect, which leads to confusion. But for the most part, mispronunciations are an example of sheer laziness on the broadcaster’s behalf.
As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t have a big problem with the occasional mispronunciation. What really drives me berserk are the announcers who feel the urge to pronounce European names using some whacked-out attempt at the accent from players’ homelands. If you’re not going to pronounce Ryan O’Reilly’s name as if you were a leprechaun, fellas, leave the other nationalities alone as well.
Next: It’s a good question why other leagues don’t follow the NHL’s lead in terms of their year-end awards. Perhaps it’s because most individual awards in other sports don’t carry the same cache as the NHL’s. But I suspect that hockey players respect the history of their game at least as much, if not far more, than other professional leagues; as such, they almost always are willing to show up and be schmoozed one more time before their summer break.
Lastly, I always enjoyed our magazine’s “separated at birth” feature – mostly because I had to write the small descriptions that accompanied them. We’ve got no immediate plans to use it again soon, but I think you’ll see some variation of it make its way back eventually.
Adam, what is going on with the goaltending situation in Dallas? If they trade Marty Turco, that will be a huge mistake. There are a lot more problems that need to be addressed than goalies. What do you think?
Brad Benton, Dallas
I know you submitted this before Alex Auld was waived and assigned to the American League during the Olympic break. But I think there’s still a small possibility Turco gets traded and Auld gets recalled in his place, so the question remains valid.
With the acquisition of Kari Lehtonen, Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk has provided himself with some options and roster flexibility as the March 3 trade deadline approaches. In the salary cap era, that’s all you can ask for.
Moving Turco would signal the dawn of a new netminding era in Dallas, but I don’t know that’s necessarily a bad thing. If Nieuwendyk can plug some organizational holes with the return Turco would bring in a trade, he ought to do so.
But if Turco’s expiring contract – and the cap space it will provide the Stars come summertime – is of more value to the franchise, there’s nothing wrong with keeping him and taking a risk for the rest of the season.
Adam, I was reading The Hockey News (two editions ago) in between periods of the Swiss/Canada Olympic game, specifically the Ask Adam section. A reader asked you a question, something like, “does the helmet rule apply to the shootout?”
You blah-blahed on about safety and turning it into five shooters, but you didn’t answer the dude’s query. Sometimes a simple yes or no would suffice. So? Maybe a rephrase? Can a shooter remove his helmet before his turn in a shootout?
Josh Howald, Kincardine, Ont.
Ask Adam appears Fridays on TheHockeyNews.com. Proteau also answers readers’ questions in every issue of The Hockey News magazine and on The Hockey News Radio Show on XM Radio channel 204. To send us your question or comment, click HERE.
Adam Proteau is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays, his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.