On the preseason, Shanahan, and more

The Preseason

  • The power play has the potential to be lethal, especially once Chris Pronger and his booming shot are back on the point.
  • When Jaromir Jagr was signed, I balked at his contract, even though I expected 60-70 points from him. Now that I see the chemistry he has with Claude Giroux and how much he can help the powerplay, $3.3 million seems reasonable.
  • I’m willing to admit that I jumped the gun, expressing concern about the penalty killing unit when players like Mike Richards and Darroll Powe left town. I don’t expect the PK to be as good as it has so far but it should be much improved from last season.
  • The offensive lines are taking shape and, unlike last season, players will be in their natural positions:
    • van Riemsdyk – Giroux – Jagr
    • Hartnell – Briere – Voracek
    • Read – Schenn – Simmonds
    • Talbot – Betts – Nodl/Rinaldo
  • I haven’t seen much from Ilya Bryzgalov yet that would justify his contract but it’s just the preseason. There’s plenty of time for him to prove himself. You know, like 9 seasons.
  • HBO is going to make bank off of 24/7 this year. Wow.
  • Like last season, we will be doing an NHLE post. This will help us figure out what to expect from some of the new players. (Geoff Detweiler says to expect 32 points over 82 games from Matt Read.)

Brendan Shanahan

The NHL’s new discipline czar is certainly making his presence felt by handing out a number of lengthy suspensions during the preseason, including a 10-game suspension for Jody Shelley as well as a suspension for James Wisniewski that will last the remainder of the preseason and eight regular season games — 12 games in all. It will also cost him nearly $537K. Ouch. Tom Sestito is likely to feel Shanny’s wrath as well.

Some people are grumbling that Shanahan has gone too far and a few folks are already deeming his reign to be worse than that of Colin Campbell. Personally, I like what Shanahan has done. He’s provided two key elements that have been lacking from the department of discipline: transparency and consistency.

If the league really wants to get rid of these dangerous, defenseless hits, then substantial and consistent penalties need to be assessed. He’s sending a strong message and I think it will have a greater impact on curbing these hits than any measures previously taken.

The slur

What Wayne Simmonds said to Sean Avery was a unique matter insofar as it is simultaneously unacceptable and accepted. It is a rather complex issue and not as clear cut as some are making it seem.

He was absolutely wrong for saying what he did. At the same time, the fact is that players say these things on the ice all the time (which doesn’t make it right, of course). It’s part of creating a hostile environment for the opponent and that is an area in which Sean Avery excels.

After all, Avery allegedly called Georges Laraques a monkey, said that he was going to “f*cking kill Claude Giroux” and told Simmonds to “go f*ck yourself” last night. We’re talking about someone who earns his paycheck by bringing out the absolute worst in people. Simmonds also said that Avery called him something upsetting but refused to elaborate, as opposed to Avery, who decided to discuss Simmonds’ slur with the media.

This isn’t a he said, she said debate, though. It’s about the fact that Simmonds was caught on TV calling Avery a homophobic slur. The truth is, I’ve heard that word used many times both at NHL rinks and on TV feeds and most likely so have you. Simmonds did nothing that hasn’t been done before, which means the problem is much greater than this isolated instance. It’s a problem with the culture.

Technically, players can be given an unsportsmanlike conduct minor for using profane language but most of these instances are overlooked. Even if they were penalized, a two-minute trip to the box is probably not strong enough a deterrent to stop players from saying such things.

According to Bob McKenzie, Simmonds may receive a fine of up to $2,500 for his actions. It may get bigger than that, though, as GLAAD has contacted both the NHL and the Flyers about taking action against Simmonds, according to Katie Strang. This has the potential to either get out of hand or actually affect change in the league.

If the NHL chooses to make an example of Simmonds and then consistently exacts the same measure of discipline with each player who exhibits comparable behavior, then I applaud the league’s decision. Otherwise, this is just a lame example of moral relativism.

Brayden Schenn

Schenn left last night’s game against the Rangers with an upper-body injury. Paul Holmgren said the injury was nothing serious. However, Schenn did not practice today and he may not play in the next preseason game. He is an important part of the future for the Flyers. The team is going to take every precaution possible to make sure he’s healthy. There’s no reason for Holmgren to lie about his health in the preseason but there’s also no reason to push him. Letting Schenn rest and take the time he needs to get back to 100% is the right move.

A few months ago, I asked Rich Hammond, of LA Kings Insider, if there was any reason the Flyers should be concerned about Schenn’s health, given the injuries he suffered in the last few years. He said, “I don’t think Schenn is seen as being any more injury-prone than the average player, and that had nothing to do with him being traded.”

It is time to show more restraint

Tom Sestito currently leads the league with 31 penalty minutes in three games. Jody Shelley has 22 PIMs in 1 game. The Flyers are tied for fifth in the league with five fights. A quick recap of the box scores shows the Flyers have amassed 109 PIMs as well as two game misconducts and one 10-game suspension with at least one other possible suspension still pending in five preseason games. The Flyers are averaging 21.8 penalty minutes per game.

  • Bob H

    The Simmonds incident now contains a twist that I wasn’t expecting..the way I heard, Avery called Simmonds something anti-gay AND possibly racial.

    If Simmonds has been caught on tape, so to speak, he’s got everything coming to him. If not, let’s string Avery up by his you-know-whats.

    My problem here is, Simmonds AGAIN has an opportunity to help himself and reveal what Avery said just to level the playing field — ESPECIALLY if it was racial in nature — and he won’t do it.

    That makes Avery come out looking great by comparison. Which is damaging to Simmonds to the point where he might end up becoming hockey’s version of Nyjer Morgan if he keeps on retaliating. BTW, I have yet to see quotes from teammates defending Simmonds like the other night.

    Look, I’m not necessarily for the separation of the real world from the hockey rink (for a longer explanation, talk to me about what should have happened to Todd Bertuzzi re: Steve Moore), but if you’re going to get GLAAD or the NAACP involved, you might as well fine everybody all the time for all the smack talk, which ALWAYS veers to the personal.

    Short of that, as much as I hate to say this, let the hockey world remain the hockey world and keep every organization who might have a beef with something that’s said or acts that are committed, out of the mix. It’s more about publicity for those organizations than it is about being able to help the “victim.”

    • http://flyersfaithful.com Marcello D

      I think you can talk smack without using racial or homophobic epithets.

      • Bob H

        So do I, but it doesn’t matter ultimately what we think, it matters how the NHL either does or doesn’t get the message across. And if players who take up the cause can have enough influence on the rest to get straight.

        Let me play Devils’ Advocate: Are you OK with sexist, or graphically sexual smack talk? Or stuff that revolves around family members? How can you be against racial or homophobic epithets and not be against other hurtful talk like possible threatening violence, or battery, or adultery or sodomy?

        • http://flyersfaithful.com Marcello D

          Dan is right to say that it can be hurtful to a person to insult his wife or mother. Players make such comments to get under the skin of an opponent. The difference is that insulting someone’s wife or mother is a personal attack with a direct and limited target.

          As Dan also suggested, calling someone gay, in this context, implies there is something wrong with being gay. That hurts countless people.

          In a sense, yes, it is insincere to isolate one comment and not the others but I would argue that the homophobic and racist actions are significantly more hurtful to a larger number of people than calling someone’s wife fat.

          I think you can restrict what is said on the ice without taking away a player’s ability to taunt an opponent.

          • Bob H

            Michael Landsberg on TSN’s Off the Record is discussing this right now with former NHLers Todd Harvey, Todd Hlushko and two other guys whose affiliations I didn’t catch.

            Harvey says he’s been called worse than anti-gay slurs multiple times. Hlushko, I think, spent most of his time ripping Avery and saying he’s got nothing to support him because he says stuff to provoke and doesn’t defend himself when called out on ice.

            There’s another guy on the panel — former Islanders head coach Bill Stewart — who took the side of “it’s just part of the game and it’s too ingrained in the culture to try and stop.”

            All four say that if you have GLAAD go after Simmonds for a slur if it was caught by anyone on or off-ice, you might as well open the door to every group having a piece of the action.

            Nobody called for Simmonds to be suspended.

            OK…Marcello D…so you “would argue that the homophobic and racist actions are significantly more hurtful to a larger number of people than calling someone’s wife fat.”

            Please argue the point.

          • http://flyersfaithful.com Marcello D

            Let’s say we’re in a large group of people. If I call your wife a b*tch, it hurts you and your wife. If I call you a derogatory term used to describe your ethnicity, that hurts you and everyone around of that ethnicity. It also assumes that being of that ethnicity is a bad thing.

  • Bob H

    The Simmonds incident now contains a twist that I wasn’t expecting..the way I heard, Avery called Simmonds something anti-gay AND possibly racial.

    If Simmonds has been caught on tape, so to speak, he’s got everything coming to him. If not, let’s string Avery up by his you-know-whats.

    My problem here is, Simmonds AGAIN has an opportunity to help himself and reveal what Avery said just to level the playing field — ESPECIALLY if it was racial in nature — and he won’t do it.

    That makes Avery come out looking great by comparison. Which is damaging to Simmonds to the point where he might end up becoming hockey’s version of Nyjer Morgan if he keeps on retaliating. BTW, I have yet to see quotes from teammates defending Simmonds like the other night.

    Look, I’m not necessarily for the separation of the real world from the hockey rink (for a longer explanation, talk to me about what should have happened to Todd Bertuzzi re: Steve Moore), but if you’re going to get GLAAD or the NAACP involved, you might as well fine everybody all the time for all the smack talk, which ALWAYS veers to the personal.

    Short of that, as much as I hate to say this, let the hockey world remain the hockey world and keep every organization who might have a beef with something that’s said or acts that are committed, out of the mix. It’s more about publicity for those organizations than it is about being able to help the “victim.”

    • http://flyersfaithful.com Marcello D

      I think you can talk smack without using racial or homophobic epithets.

      • Bob H

        So do I, but it doesn’t matter ultimately what we think, it matters how the NHL either does or doesn’t get the message across. And if players who take up the cause can have enough influence on the rest to get straight.

        Let me play Devils’ Advocate: Are you OK with sexist, or graphically sexual smack talk? Or stuff that revolves around family members? How can you be against racial or homophobic epithets and not be against other hurtful talk like possible threatening violence, or battery, or adultery or sodomy?

        • http://flyersfaithful.com Marcello D

          Dan is right to say that it can be hurtful to a person to insult his wife or mother. Players make such comments to get under the skin of an opponent. The difference is that insulting someone’s wife or mother is a personal attack with a direct and limited target.

          As Dan also suggested, calling someone gay, in this context, implies there is something wrong with being gay. That hurts countless people.

          In a sense, yes, it is insincere to isolate one comment and not the others but I would argue that the homophobic and racist actions are significantly more hurtful to a larger number of people than calling someone’s wife fat.

          I think you can restrict what is said on the ice without taking away a player’s ability to taunt an opponent.

          • Bob H

            Michael Landsberg on TSN’s Off the Record is discussing this right now with former NHLers Todd Harvey, Todd Hlushko and two other guys whose affiliations I didn’t catch.

            Harvey says he’s been called worse than anti-gay slurs multiple times. Hlushko, I think, spent most of his time ripping Avery and saying he’s got nothing to support him because he says stuff to provoke and doesn’t defend himself when called out on ice.

            There’s another guy on the panel — former Islanders head coach Bill Stewart — who took the side of “it’s just part of the game and it’s too ingrained in the culture to try and stop.”

            All four say that if you have GLAAD go after Simmonds for a slur if it was caught by anyone on or off-ice, you might as well open the door to every group having a piece of the action.

            Nobody called for Simmonds to be suspended.

            OK…Marcello D…so you “would argue that the homophobic and racist actions are significantly more hurtful to a larger number of people than calling someone’s wife fat.”

            Please argue the point.

          • http://flyersfaithful.com Marcello D

            Let’s say we’re in a large group of people. If I call your wife a b*tch, it hurts you and your wife. If I call you a derogatory term used to describe your ethnicity, that hurts you and everyone around of that ethnicity. It also assumes that being of that ethnicity is a bad thing.

  • Dan M

    I’m with Bob and the devil here. You either have to come down hard on all vulgarity and profanity or let this lie. Isolating the gay slur from the other insults is insincere. GLAAD is upset because insulting someone by suggesting they’re gay is making a judgement about the gay lifestyle. i.e. It’s inherently bad to be gay. To me it’s just as insulting/personal to defame someone’s mother or wife. And Sean Avery needs to deal. He earns his check by insulting people every night and now he’s gonna tattle cause he doesn’t like what came back at him? That’s BS.

    This isn’t a lame example of moral relativism it’s a most cogent example of it.

    • http://flyersfaithful.com Marcello D

      I’m not sure our opinions are all that different, Dan.

  • Dan M

    I’m with Bob and the devil here. You either have to come down hard on all vulgarity and profanity or let this lie. Isolating the gay slur from the other insults is insincere. GLAAD is upset because insulting someone by suggesting they’re gay is making a judgement about the gay lifestyle. i.e. It’s inherently bad to be gay. To me it’s just as insulting/personal to defame someone’s mother or wife. And Sean Avery needs to deal. He earns his check by insulting people every night and now he’s gonna tattle cause he doesn’t like what came back at him? That’s BS.

    This isn’t a lame example of moral relativism it’s a most cogent example of it.

    • http://flyersfaithful.com Marcello D

      I’m not sure our opinions are all that different, Dan.

  • Bob H

    I see your point.

    But I also raise you that calling another woman “bitch” — or anything else derogatory for that matter — isn’t just hurtful and insulting to those two people, it can also easily be construed as misogynistic — which is right up there in my opinion with racist or homophobic.

    Once you attack someone for who they are, it’s unacceptable.

    Nonetheless, I still believe that the outside world should take a pass on hockey smack talk and concentrate what they can control. Same goes for all sports. Now that GLAAD has made its position known, the NHL is under a microscope.

    And we know that rule #2 of Gary Bettman’s reign is that image is everything.

    • http://flyersfaithful.com Marcello D

      I think you’re stretching to say calling one person a “b*tch” in an isolated instance is misogynistic but it certainly wouldn’t surprise me if someone tried to do that.

      Yes, attacking people for who they are is unacceptable but to demean an entire group of people is much worse, as it creates an uncomfortable environment for that group and you risk isolating them or even running out of the league.

      Clearly, there is a problem with homophobia in hockey, as no NHLer has felt comfortable enough to come out as gay. On the other hand. plenty of people on and off the ice have called Chris Pronger’s wife a b*tch (just ask anyone in Edmonton) and that hasn’t deterred him from playing the sport. Both are wrong but these two examples are not even in the same league.

      Bruce Arthur wrote a good column on this subject: http://www.nationalpost.com/opinion/columnists/Fighting+Words/5467886/story.html

      • Bob H

        The only difference I see between us is that I am placing “bitch” in that category because why would a man call a woman that? Because he does not like women and thinks women as a whole are worthless and disgusting. Think it’s a stretch? Ever heard of “woman-haters?” Same principle, I think, in calling someone gay or any number of racial epithets.

        Ok…I’m off my soapbox for that, and onto my next one.

        I think that Shanny has done well thus far defining what is and what is not acceptable right off the bat and with appropriately weighty penalties and great transparency.

        BUT…it’s excessive that he suspended J.F. Jacques for FIVE GAMES for fighting that Duco guy after coming onto the ice during a LEGAL line change. Not even a first-man-off-the-bench deal. A legit shift change. Ridiculous. Another nail in the coffin for being able to settle on-ice debts.

        • sonny lusch

          I can’t believe Sestito’s only gonna get four, and was sent down to the Phantoms??? Same thing happened to Jacques with Anaheim today. Message or coincidence??

  • Bob H

    I see your point.

    But I also raise you that calling another woman “bitch” — or anything else derogatory for that matter — isn’t just hurtful and insulting to those two people, it can also easily be construed as misogynistic — which is right up there in my opinion with racist or homophobic.

    Once you attack someone for who they are, it’s unacceptable.

    Nonetheless, I still believe that the outside world should take a pass on hockey smack talk and concentrate what they can control. Same goes for all sports. Now that GLAAD has made its position known, the NHL is under a microscope.

    And we know that rule #2 of Gary Bettman’s reign is that image is everything.

    • http://flyersfaithful.com Marcello D

      I think you’re stretching to say calling one person a “b*tch” in an isolated instance is misogynistic but it certainly wouldn’t surprise me if someone tried to do that.

      Yes, attacking people for who they are is unacceptable but to demean an entire group of people is much worse, as it creates an uncomfortable environment for that group and you risk isolating them or even running out of the league.

      Clearly, there is a problem with homophobia in hockey, as no NHLer has felt comfortable enough to come out as gay. On the other hand. plenty of people on and off the ice have called Chris Pronger’s wife a b*tch (just ask anyone in Edmonton) and that hasn’t deterred him from playing the sport. Both are wrong but these two examples are not even in the same league.

      Bruce Arthur wrote a good column on this subject: http://www.nationalpost.com/opinion/columnists/Fighting+Words/5467886/story.html

      • Bob H

        The only difference I see between us is that I am placing “bitch” in that category because why would a man call a woman that? Because he does not like women and thinks women as a whole are worthless and disgusting. Think it’s a stretch? Ever heard of “woman-haters?” Same principle, I think, in calling someone gay or any number of racial epithets.

        Ok…I’m off my soapbox for that, and onto my next one.

        I think that Shanny has done well thus far defining what is and what is not acceptable right off the bat and with appropriately weighty penalties and great transparency.

        BUT…it’s excessive that he suspended J.F. Jacques for FIVE GAMES for fighting that Duco guy after coming onto the ice during a LEGAL line change. Not even a first-man-off-the-bench deal. A legit shift change. Ridiculous. Another nail in the coffin for being able to settle on-ice debts.

        • sonny lusch

          I can’t believe Sestito’s only gonna get four, and was sent down to the Phantoms??? Same thing happened to Jacques with Anaheim today. Message or coincidence??