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Slippery slope

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

At a time when “teabaggers” are giving a bad name to a noble historical movement, it takes a few vacation weeks away from you “mailbaggers” to make me appreciate your continued contributions.

As always, thanks for sending your questions.

Hey Adam, did you know the name "Adam" is the greatest name in the English language?

Adam Jett, Los Angeles

Hey Adam,

I only recently became aware of this rumor, but I did my journalistic duty and checked with Messrs. Graves, Burish, Baldwin, Pardy and Horovitz, and sure enough, you’re correct.

(Sorry, but I had to ease back into the mailbag process with a gimme.)

Hey Adam, in the wake of the recent laser pointer incident in Vancouver, do you think a two-minute minor to the home team is enough punishment to stem this stupid behavior?

Todd Brutcher, St. Louis

Hey Todd,

I don’t know that you ever want to punish a team at all for the lowbrow behavior of a handful of drooling buffoons who defied nature and stood upright long enough to make it into the building.

If you really want the idiocy to end, a significant fine to the organization itself would force them to bolster their security apparatus.

Hey Adam, I was just wondering, who is the better hockey town, Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal, and which team has more loyal fans? Thank you.

Fred Johnson, Fredericton, N.B.

Hey Fred,

You’re just trying to get me more hate mail, aren’t you? But fine, here are my thoughts:

I’d say Montreal is the best hockey town of the three; there is more concentrated and often-demonstrated energy in the heart of the city as it pertains to the game and Montreal’s surrounding areas support amateur hockey much more than Leafs-centric Toronto.

That said, the Maple Leafs’ history of futility, combined with the insane levels of corporate and fan support that continue to this day, makes Toronto the city with the most loyal fans.

Yes, this analysis leaves Vancouver out in the cold. But their citizens can take comfort in the fact their town is by far the most beautiful of the three. Hopefully this makes everybody happy – or more likely, equally angry. I’m all about the egalitarianism.

Adam, as a long-suffering Oilers fan, I'm at the point where I'd cheer for any successful Canadian team. But their ongoing inconsistency drives me nuts. Please reassure me that things aren't as bad as they seem because I honestly can't remember when (a) two Canadian teams led their respective conferences, (b) all six Canadian teams sat in playoff positions at the same time, or (c) all six teams won on the same night.

Rick Prosk, Quesnel, B.C.


The NHL’s parity will make it tough for all six Canadian teams to make the playoffs year after year, so I’m afraid you’re going to have to keep romanticizing the golden olden days. But what, you can’t cheer for the Calgary Flames or Vancouver Canucks? Both of those teams have looked bad at times, but they’ve also both looked like they can do some damage come mid-April.

As for your Oilers….ummm…

Adam, do you care to comment on the downward spiral of the Edmonton Oilers? If you have any negative criticism of the Lowe/Tambellini management debacle maybe the owner Darryl Katz will take your advice and move in another direction.

William Auger, Edmonton


My criticism of the Oilers’ current management regime goes no further than their deplorable record. As Brian Burke once told me, the great thing about this game is that the results can’t be denied – either you’re a good hockey team or you’re not.

And other than that one magical spring when the Oilers made the Stanley Cup final, they simply haven’t been anywhere close to good enough under Lowe & Co. As was the case in Minnesota last year – and as is the case in Atlanta this year – it is apparent that a new voice and direction are the only things that will satisfy distressed Edmontonians.

Adam, please explain to me "healthy scratches." Is it because only so many players can be on the roster for each game? I get so frustrated at the "delay of game" penalty when it is often obvious the player did not intend such. Is this rule really necessary? Why are there divisions when the only races that count are for the eight conference playoff positions? Thanks. I love hockey but have only followed it closely for five years and am still learning.

David Shine, Fostoria, Ohio


A healthy scratch is a player who could suit up for a game, but who is sat out by his coaches, anyway. The situation usually occurs with fringe members of each roster, but sometimes, coaches can sideline a main member of the team to send the player the message that his efforts are lacking.

Yes, a “delay of game” penalty is awarded to a player who unintentionally puts the puck over the glass, but in the years prior to the rule, many players would intentionally flip the disc over the boards and put a stop to play with zero repercussions. I don’t think you’d want to watch that happen every night, would you?

Finally, I believe many people wonder why the divisional breakdown continues to exist in the modern-day NHL. On some level, the divisions are there to foster geographical rivalries, but really, they’re simply a mirage to mask the big picture. Much like the standings system itself.

Hey Adam, I am a big Ranger fan and I also love hockey, but after years of watching, I just can't understand the plus-minus thing. A player on the ice during the time a goal is scored gets either a plus or a minus, depending which team scored the goal. Right? Why is this stat so important? Just because he is on the ice doesn’t mean he had something to do with the offense or the lack of defense. Thanks THN and Adam!

Maria Stokes, Staten Island, N.Y.

Hey Maria,

In and of itself, a single plus or minus doesn’t mean much at all, for exactly the reason you describe. However, if you look at a player’s rating over the course of a season or their entire career, you have a fairly accurate indication of how productive and responsible he was when he was on the ice.

For example, Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom has finished at least a plus-7 in every season of his legendary NHL career – and hasn’t finished a year lower than plus-13 since 2001-02 – and is the current active leader among all NHLers with a combined plus-424 during his NHL days.

That is no fluke – and shows you just how awesome former Canadiens great Larry Robinson had to be to become the league’s all-time plus-minus leader (plus-730).

Ask Adam appears Fridays on 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 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.


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