This is my final mailbag column until Friday, Jan. 14. If it makes you feel any better, I’ll answer all kinds of questions from myself while I’m gone.
Thanks for the great column! I've been reading a lot of comments on the Internet lately about the instigator rule, with a lot of people saying that it needs to go so players like Jarkko Ruutu and Sean Avery can't rile up the poor goons any more. Disgustingly, this even gets brought up in the context of Chris Simon's latest brainwave. And of course, Don Cherry goes on (and on) about it too.
Here's my question: Is my memory failing me completely, or didn't Ruutu, Avery and every other NHL agitator play their game exactly the same way before the instigator rule came around? Didn't Esa Tikkanen play in the NHL and do precisely the same thing?
If they played their game the same way before the instigator rule, why would removing it now change anything? In general, has the instigator rule really changed things as much as the pro-goon folks are saying, or has it been blown completely out of proportion?
Michael Halila, Helsinki
Funny you should mention this, because just the other day, THN Senior Writer Mike Brophy and I were having a discussion about the exact same topic. (Mike wrote about the instigator rule in Double OT this week.)
We came to the conclusion that some people around the NHL have extremely short and selective memories when it comes to the instigator. As you noted, Tikkanen played a style of game very similar to Avery, as did Ken Linseman, Claude Lemieux, and a host of other pest types. And the frontier justice that existed when they played did nothing to dissuade them from highly questionable actions on the ice.
So to answer your question – absolutely, the Goonatics (Goonies?) out there have completely lost the plot in their efforts to justify institutionalized mayhem in hockey. Perhaps one too many shots to the head has resulted in some faulty wiring in their melon regions.
I really enjoy your columns and always look forward to them even if they focus on something I don't care for…the Maple Leafs, for example. Anyway, I've always wondered – how can someone become a professional hockey scout? Thanks,
Ahmed Murad, Chicago
Interesting question. To my knowledge, there aren’t any pro scouting schools in which you can enroll; but given the state of the world today, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some scammer open up such an operation eventually.
Really, succeeding as a pro scout comes down to dedication, initiative, and a little good fortune, just as in most other professions. Having played the game at a high level always helps, but I know of some scouts who were little more than rink rats when they got into the business, yet persevered and caught a couple lucky breaks along the way.
If I were interested in scouting, I’d get involved at the amateur level, network my almost translucently white butt off, and keep my nose to the proverbial grindstone in hope that someone would believe in me. Best of luck.
You were one of the first to jump on the Capitals’ bandwagon and also one of the first to jump off. Now that Bruce Boudreau looks like he's helped turn their season around and they're sniffing at the playoffs again, are you thinking about jumping back on?
Ted Bridges, Fairfax, Va.
Bandwagon-jumping? Moi? Never. Of course, there are teams I like in the pre-season, but I’m duty-bound to point out their cruddiness once the real action gets underway.
Such is the case with the Caps. I still don’t believe they’re the second-worst team in the NHL (as the current standings indicate); however, with the league’s unbalanced schedule, one awful month can more or less kill a team’s post-season aspirations.
Therefore, unless Washington quickly goes on a three-month-long tear, I fear their improved efforts may be for naught. But there’s no doubt I’d love to see them make the playoffs. Believe it or not, I enjoy being right every so often.
First and foremost, let me take the time to say, thank you for your time and efforts. Your satirical writing style with a touch of The Simpsons and other humorous references are how I keep in touch with the hockey world. I live in New Zealand, which brings me to my questions. Post lockout: There has been many sad times spent thinking about the horrible deal that Bettman negotiated with ESPN. There is no international TV provider, not even for the Stanley Cup Final. That said, do you think there is a chance these two reasonable groups will get together and sort out an agreement? Also, being a Canucks' fan has left me wondering why Brendan Morrison has been over-hyped as a first line player while in a Canucks jersey. His contract far outweighs his contribution and he is a decent third line center. Lou Lamoriello does not lose many trades; you know what I'm saying? Do you think that some hometown players manage to outlive their time with the club due to their charm when conducting themselves with the media? I enjoy the fact that you like most teams so keep up the good work, but what I still can't figure out is why you hate the Leafs, Hawks, Bruins, Wings, Habs and the Rangers. Have you no mercy? Cheers and happy holidays,
Kevin Tyner, Nelson, New Zealand
See, that’s why I love getting inquiries from other Commonwealth countries – the dry sense of humor always stands out and impresses.
It’s got to be hell as an NHL fan outside of North America. But after my interview with NHLPA executive director Paul Kelly – an interview that will appear in our People Of Power And Influence issue, in addition to serving as my Screen Shots column over the next two weeks – I’ve got to say I have more hope that you’ll be watching the league’s games on TV in the near future.
Kelly spoke passionately about developing the league’s brand in Europe and elsewhere, and with whispers about the NHL returning in some form on ESPN in the next couple years, there should be some positive news for you on the horizon.
As for Morrison, I’ve never been overly enamored of his talents. He’s not a dud, either, but should he choose to leave Van-City when his contract expires at the end of this season, I think the Canucks will be able to replace his contributions (with a youngster in their system, or with a proven veteran) with relative ease.
Morrison is good with the media, and that type of talent undoubtedly affords a player or coach a little wiggle room in the PR department (see Maurice, Paul). Sooner or later, though, if there’s no meaningful production from the media-savvy individual, the knives always come out.
Happy holidays to you, too, Kevin – and to the rest of you as well. Talk to you in a few weeks.
Ask Adam appears Tuesdays and Fridays only on The Hockey News.com. To send us your question or comment, click HERE.