Hey all. I know you guys have a job to do (sending me inquiries that I’ll answer here, in THN magazine and on THN Radio), but I’m not taking questions today.
Just kidding. This is not, after all, (Don’t) Ask John Tortorella. On to the reasons we’re all here:
Adam, is it just me or has there been an even greater crackdown on clutching and grabbing so far this season? I've seen more barely-touched-the-opponent "holding" and "interference" calls in the first two weeks of this season than almost all of last season. And compared to a couple years ago, it’s not even looking like the same league on some nights. But maybe I'm just imagining it so help me out, am I seeing things right?
Patrick Morley, St. Paul, Minn.
Because officiating is a subjective art, fans, media and coaches/GMs/players are likely to disagree on just about every call. After the 2005-06 crackdown, there really shouldn’t be a need for further crackdowns, but I’ve had discussions with media types who believe there’s been some slippage.
In my mind, referees should be as aggressive as possible in the calling of the rulebook. Consistency in that department is the only way to continually make it clear to players that illegal play won’t be tolerated. In the past, NHLers knew it was only a matter of time until GMs or team governors complained enough to get the league to back off – and that’s why past crackdowns ended with the league mired deeper in the Dead Puck Era.
It’s not easy to maintain your stance in the face of public and/or industry pressure, but that’s what good leadership and sports administration is all about.
Adam, in light of the recent suspension to Andy Sutton for a game played on Friday, was it too much work to make a ruling the next day rather than waiting until the following Monday and Tuesday? Or does Brendan Shanahan get weekends off now?
Troy Martinson, Westlock, Alta.
I don’t see the big deal. Sutton was suspended pending his hearing and wasn’t available for Edmonton’s Sunday night game. And honestly, why shouldn’t Shanahan get some sort of down time? You think he’d be effective if the league had a 24/7 leash on him? People in the NHL hockey operations department understand what his mandate is and work under that. Sometimes I wonder if fans understand these guys are human beings with families and lives outside the game, and this type of question makes me wonder even more.
Adam, in this ultra-sensitive, over-criticized era of hockey, do you think the game will ever return itself to the gritty, hard-nosed, passionate game it once was?
Erroll Karlson, Dauphin, Man.
I think any sport reflects the society in which it operates – and when that society evolves, the sport evolves with it. Now, it’s fair to question where the evolution takes a particular game, but I’d bet if you asked current NHLers whether the game was lacking grit, they’d say no.
Old-timers might say otherwise, but romanticizing bygone times is as much about the youth of those who were part of it as it is about any lost or lacking quality. In other words, it’s not that the “good old days” were any better. It’s that you were young at the time that’s clouding your perception.
Good day Mr. Proteau, As is occasionally reported during a season, illnesses sometime tear through a team. Is it usual for an organization to provide flu shots for its players? I recall there was an uproar when a few Canadian teams got the H1N1 vaccine before most of the population. I would think that seasonal flu shots would be a wise precaution for teams to take.
Aaron Johnson, Tallahassee, Fla.
Good day Mr. Johnson,
Each team’s medical policy is different, but yes, teams do inoculate players against the flu virus if the organization’s doctors feel there’s a chance they’ll be struck by it. In terms of uproars over players jumping the line to get treatment, I think that’s part of a larger discussion. Any individual with enough money in North America can see a top-notch specialist sooner than one without a significant supply of disposable financial capital. And as we know, most teams will spend whatever is necessary to stay competitive.
Hey Adam, would it be wise for Columbus to trade for Florida’s Scott Clemmensen? I'm sure a fourth or fifth round pick would make the deal and they need an NHL quality backup to relieve Steve Mason for at least 20-30 games this season. Clemmensen, coming off injury soon, looks to be the odd man out now with Jose Theodore and Jacob Markstrom playing solid.
Anthony Kelly, Whitby, Ont.
There’s no doubt the Blue Jackets need better goaltending than what Mason has given them this year. Against Toronto Thursday night, he was abysmal and you could see the team in front of him playing tentatively because they knew it.
At $1.2 million, Clemmensen is an affordable option and an even more attractive one given that he’ll be an unrestricted free agent after this season. It becomes a question of what Florida would want and here’s the big problem: everybody knows the pressure Columbus GM Scott Howson is under, as well as how poorly his team continues to play. Panthers GM Dale Tallon isn’t running a charity, so he’d likely boost his asking price. And at that point, with the playoffs a fading possibility, does it make sense to toss away prospects and/or draft picks to help you move up in the standings from 15th to 12th?
Not to me, it doesn’t. But something has to be done regarding the Jackets’ net. Without a turnaround, they could effectively be out of the playoffs by the end of this month.