Tag Archive for Gary Bettman

Hockey : Diving With Betttman

1220 for publication Friday May 5, 2017

Ross Brewitt

Do you recall, in this present season now into its last act, when goal production was called into question by the NHL’s Commissioner? Well, do you?

They were looking for something, anything, new rules, circular nets, open season on running goalies, and no-defenders allowed within the new no-go-area painted green and cerise between corner face-off circles.

The first paragraph was true, some of the second wasn’t’. You decide.

Of course the NHL, in its wisdom, rejected out-of-hand any of those crisp and effective, yet flawed suggestions needing more work. Still, as the NHL were scratching their heads and looking blankly at each other, time marched on and, who would’a guessed, the goals started to come. True, they were fewer, with only a few outbreaks of blowouts, but it was accomplished without doing any tinkering.

To their credit, the NHL withdrew their panic. Imagine, cost-savings and progress realized by using common sense on the problem. Whatta concept!

Take a fledgling team like Toronto, peppered with rookies up front and at the blueline, who became the darlings of tight hockey and wedged themselves into a post-season spot. They entertained fans with overtime games and one goal wins while losing in six against the Capitals, only the best team in hockey over the season. That took penalty control.

Montreal enlisted a new “old” coach, Claude Julien, and just made it into the post season, Ottawa did the same, getting Guy Boucher to take the Senator reins.

For me this was the most surprising coaching change coming into the season, and now, today, the Sens are still in the hunt. We had last seen Guy Boucher as the wild-eyed, growly, short-fused coach who harped his way out of a job in Tampa Bay. This new version is the quieter, calmer model and the team has responded.

The Oilers look like a team with the tenacity that will need a game seven with the Ducks to win. They lack the experience of Anaheim, have the legs and firepower to prevail, yet patience will be their key to any success.

However, as I have warned many times, there is this nasty feeling a series, perhaps the Stanley Cup Final could be decided on a penalty advantage gained by a “dive.”

It’s always a cowardly, disgusting way to play the game. With the rise in diving, don’t look to the League to take control or any leadership in exterminating the practice. Little has been done since the arrival of diving in the 70’s. Frankly, there is no excuse, none, for allowing it to continue.

My thoughts on the subject have been printed here. Often. My concern is, an important game is going to be won, or lost, on a phony penalty, the result of a dive.

So, it comes down to Mr. Bettman, and since he has had so much success in dealing with the players and their Union, it’s about time to get serious, and enlist their support before hockey is dragged down to the status of soccer. Hockey used to be the “tough guy sport, the sport other pros in other sports point to when asked about “tough’.

Most recently, the dive on Wednesday night when Penguin Nick Bonino successfully staged a stick in the vicinity of his shoulder, into a high-stick to the face penalty for Washington’s T.J. Oshie. It was a joke, And the joke was made obvious on TV-replay.

Therefore, why not give the referees a review? Why not afford them their own check, their own conference, and call an obvious dive a foul with some clout. Let’s say four minutes for diving!

With the advent of cameras everywhere, and the technology to back them up, diving can easily be exposed.

Mr. Bettman, why not go down in sports history as the big-league commissioner who eliminated diving, rather than the guy who helps promote it?

Otherwise, you are going to be sorry for your lack of judgment and control. If your players are trying such underhanded moves in the Stanley Cup playoffs, it means they have gone over the limit. It indicatess even the players don’t care anymore. That means you are headed for a breakdown, one you can avoid.

Like a Stanley Cup won or lost on a foul.

Good Penalties, Bad Penalties

1218 for publication April 21, 2017   842

Ross Brewitt

In the NHL, penalties are a fact of life. No coach will admit to a “good” penalty unless it’s to the other team, but there are the one’s a coach can live with, as long as the boys kill it off.

Still, some are better than others, as long as none are in the dumb. stupid, or selfish category. Those are the kinds that make a coach begin to tighten his tie tighter, and tighter, and… you get my drift, OK?

I once had a player tell me his coach took him aside after a game, and thanked him for taking “a great penalty.” It was a hard hit that put the opponent’s top-scoring left-winger out of a playoff game. It was also two minute penalty for “charging,” and while the injured winger got up immediately and skated on his own to the bench, they never saw him over the next two games.

In Gary Bettman’s NHL, the Department of Player Safety headed up by Stephane Quintal, takes a business-like attitude to reporting of dicey penalties, fines and suspensions. Actually their carefully worded reviews are so dry, matter-of-fact and without rancor, they usually sound like a write up on a snitty argument at a cricket match.

The one thing they are guilty of in fining or sentencing, is to fail on the side of leniency, what I refer to as the “parole first approach.”

Said approach means the penalty is subject to the time of year, as in less time off in the playoffs, the resulting severity of the offense to the offender based on if the victim can still walk onto the bus after the game without assistance. Public opinion has nothing to do with anything.

But “spearing” is an even worse offense than kicking with a skate. Mainly because “kicking,” up to now has been a very rare, whereas spearing has been gaining in acceptance and usage among NHL players. Seems the more it happens the more acceptance it appears to gain.

Well, don’t expect the League to put out the fire. Because the NHL already has taken it as pedestrian, no-big-deal, unimportant. No alarm bells have rung. So I’ve taken it on as a project, much like “diving,” that turns up in minor and youth hockey regularly. My feelings on these two fouls is clear, and final. They have no place in my version of hockey, especially in the NHL.

Let me paint a hypothetical. A two-minute tripping call is made late in the third period on a missed case of diving, during a 2-2 Stanley Cup final game. The diver’s team scores the winning goal during that penalty advantage, winning the Stanley Cup. The uproar begins, lasts for days, weeks, and continues to be a source of irritation each year thereafter.

The divers team got the penalty call, the losers team were scored upon in the ensuing man disadvantage.

How do the losers feel about being cheated out of the biggest event on the NHL calendar? What about the diver, wearing the residual reputation of a cheater for the rest of his career? No longer is putting one over on the officials a “fun” thing.

How about teammates on the winning team, how do they handle the knowledge the game was won on a dive? What about the losers, perhaps cheated out of the only time they will ever make it to the final series in their careers? What about the recurring feelings of the roped-in officials?

It’s no longer a lark.

I feel the same way about spearing. It’s a gutless, cowardly act, nothing to be proud of, with no saving grace or place in the best league in the world, considering the damage it could cause, and the lingering scent of garbage for a league supposedly well above defrauding its fanbase.

Pick up a hockey stick, much like soldier with a bayoneted rifle, then lunge forward at someone you don’t like, the blade driven with force into your opponents abdomen, or worse. Do you get a sense of satisfaction over committing an Assault With a Deadly Weapon?

Last Tuesday Leon Draisaitl of the Oilers, speared Chris Tierney of the Sharks, in the area between his legs. I’m going to assume you know what I’m talking about. He was assessed a five minute major penalty, and was quickly fined the max allowed for the AWDW. $2,500.

The fine doesn’t fit the sticking.

Strange isn’ it. If you pulled that stunt on the street you’d be arrested. And, for that reason I think the Draisaitl incident was a carry-over, having to do with the lenience for “spearing” given in one of Brad Marchand’s “gaffs” for the same offense.

How else do you explain a player like Draisaitl, with but 20 penalty minutes this past season, suddenly going over the top with the dirtiest foul in the book?

When is the NHL going to get serious about this dirty foul in their supposed squeaky clean entertainment? Nothing good can come from not wiping it off the schedule.