2010-11 Ramblings

Safety, Practicality, Heresy

Photo: Eric Bolté 24H MONTREAL/QMI Agency

I have an idea, but you’re not going to like it.

You must have been locked in your room listening to your Justin Bieber CD’s if you didn’t see the uproar caused by Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara’s hit on Montreal’s Max Pacioretty. Pacioretty’s head smacked into the stanchion supporting the glass at the end of the bench (see photo above), and he is now home from the hospital to continue his recovery from a broken neck as a result of the incident.

Now, I’m not going to open up the discussion about the hit, the league, the decision not to suspend Chara, or those who think that Chara should be waterboarded. Somebody else can beat that dead horse, my arms are tired.

But one of the subjects that didn’t get a lot of attention at the time was the safety of the rinks themselves. NHL Commissioner Gary “Napoleon” Bettman ordered an engineering review of all NHL rinks in the wake of this crisis, then galloped off to invade Portugal. But I would like to throw a simple, albeit unusual idea out there so at least somebody has said it. To some, this will be just common sense; to others, pure heresy.

Close in the benches with safety glass like the rest of the rink.

This would solve the problem of people’s heads slamming into the stanchions: there would be no stanchions. One additional benefit would be a reduction in the number of pucks going out of play and into the benches. And there would be no guys flying over the boards from enthusiastic checks.

Plus, closing in the benches would also eliminate the type of hit that knocked the Blackhawks’ Fernando Pisani out for several weeks. The whiplash effect from having your torso stop at the boards and your head and neck proceed at a jaunty clip another foot into the bench area would be a thing of the past.

There is a lot to like here, but the down side is going to make hockey fans’ stomachs churn. Closing in the benches with safety glass would mean that players could no longer hop over the boards during a line change, they would have to enter and exit the ice surface through the doors. I know more than a couple of hockey fans that will dismiss the suggestion outright for that reason alone. And frankly, I’m not sure I can blame them. In fact, I may eventually be one of them!

The practicality of this needs to be assessed. The penalty boxes are closed in, and guys can get onto the ice quickly from there. But would that necessarily be the case on the benches with 14 other guys sitting next to you? Would the existing doors need to be widened? Would there need to be a design change to facilitate faster opening and closing? Would there need to be an additional door installed? I have no idea. These are all questions for guys who have quadratic equation solution races against each other on weekends.

But despite the potential complications, I don’t think this should be summarily dismissed. The league and the fans are reluctant to let go of certain traditions, and rightfully so. However, we need to ensure that we are weighing the benefits the game could realize by doing this, as this suggestion could solve a number of problems — many of which have an impact on player safety. The league is saying that the safety of the players is their top priority. If they’re serious, they need to give this more than a passing look.

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Too Many Men on the Site

STATS Game: Rest Corey Crawford

What’s the best thing about Corey Crawford starting every game for the past month? The meatballs haven’t been able to voice their blind hatred for Marty Turco.

OK, OK … it’s not the best thing. Crawford’s 10-2-3 record and 2.66 goals-against average takes that title. But despite those numbers, I’m still going to lobby for him to don the baseball cap Thursday in Dallas.

Here’s part of the reason why:

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Confederacy of Dunces: Overreaction To Chara Hit On Pacioretty

The last 48 hours have seen one of the most staggering displays of emotional overreaction, knee-jerk stupidity, and just plain moronic behavior, all because of 0.15 seconds of hockey that took place at the Bell Centre in Montreal.

Below is the video of the check that Boston Bruins’ defenseman Zdeno Chara leveled on Montreal Canadiens’ forward Max Pacioretty. If you have not seen this, and are squeamish in any way, take a pass. I don’t want you to vomit on your keyboard.

The end result was about what you’d expect. Pacioretty is currently at Montreal General Hospital with a severe concussion and a non-displaced fracture to the 4th cervical vertebrae. Non-medical interpretation: he broke his neck, but not enough to cause paralysis.

So that happened. And then, following the league’s disciplinary hearing with Chara, it was announced that Chara would not receive a fine or suspension. And then, IQ’s all over Christendom dropped by 50 points, and all hell broke loose.

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Lending A Hand: Blocked Shot Creates Another Mystery

Photo: Getty Images

During the third period of the Toronto matchup on Saturday, Blackhawks’ defenseman Duncan Keith blocked a shot with his right hand and appeared to get hurt. Today in Florida he was not on the ice for practice, however we got a heaping helping of zilch regarding the full extent of the injury.

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Locking Him Up: Seabrook Signs Contract Extension

Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook has signed a contract extension for 5 years and a reported $29 million. This takes one of the biggest restricted free-agent headaches off the Blackhawks’ plates as the off-season approaches.

This puts the focus on GM Stan Bowman to acquire the penalty-killing defenseman he has been in search of, and he has roughly 24 hours to put a deal together. Stay tuned to BlackhawkUp for details.

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Too Many Men on the Site

Working For The Weekend: ‘Hawks Have Day Off

Photo: Chicago Blackhawks

Some quick items to pass along as you head into your weekend.

The Blackhawks took the day off from practice, as they get ready for a 5-game-in-7-day stretch that starts this Sunday at home against the Phoenix Coyotes. From there it’s up to Minnesota to face the Wild, back home to host the Calgary Flames and Carolina Hurricanes, then up for a rare trip to Air Canada Center to take on the Maple Leafs in Toronto in a nation-wide broadcast of CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada on March 5th.

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Blackhawks Beat Writers Seem Reluctant to Ask Tough Questions

Before I get into this, I would like to first say I know the difficulties that come with being a beat writer for a team. I’ve done it professionally. There’s a very thin line between being accepted and being banished, and it can often be extremely hard to tight-rope that line.

Never do you want to overstep your bounds. However, you also cannot let certain things detract from your job: Bringing the public to the forefront of issues going on within the team. There’s a reason journalism is competitive in terms of being “first to report.” Every ad for a big-market  journalism job, especially in sports, says candidates must have the “ability to break news and develop sources.”

It’s just the way it goes. Do your Blackhawks beat writers do a good job overall? I’d say yes. Can they go deeper and ask tougher questions? Without a doubt.

Are they afraid of being banished by John McDonough? It’s something we’ll probably never get a straight answer about.

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Too bad the ‘Hawks stunk, or this guy would’ve had more fun

Paul Irmen in Sec. 109, Row 14 with the help of StubHub and Blackhawk Up

Stubhub and Blackhawk Up were able to come together to give Paul Irmen a great time with two free tickets to Friday’s 4-3 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Must’ve been nice not having to pay for that egg-laying of a performance.

Paul was selected in a random drawing from the Facebook fan page, which nearly 300 people partcipated in. Congrats again to Paul, and thanks to everyone who put their name in the contest. Hopefully we can get StubHub to do this with us more often.

Paul has his own thoughts on the Blackhawks, which he wrote to me in an email this morning.

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Blue Jacket Bashing: BlackhawkUp and Fire That Cannon Exchange Blows

Photo: AP

Far be it from a Blackhawks’ fan to back down from a fight. So when Mary O’Malley, lead writer at the Fansided Network’s Fire That Cannon blog came knocking, I wasn’t about to let her walk away.

After all, she’s not just a Columbus Blue Jackets fan, she’s a GIRL!

So we shot a few e-mails back and forth, and here’s the result.

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BlackhawkUp & StubHub Have YOUR Seats for the Columbus Game

Anybody out there free to go to the Blackhawks’ game against Columbus at the United Center on Friday? How does Section 109, row 14 sound to you?!?

At midnight tonight, BlackhawkUp is giving away these two excellent tickets to tomorrow’s game, courtesy of the generous folks at StubHub.com.

Here’s what you do. Go to our Facebook page, find the status that announces this contest, and “Like” that status.

Anyone doing so before midnight tonight is eligible. We will draw a winner at random, and announce who the lucky duck is at that time. Tickets are electronic, and will be e-mailed to you shortly thereafter.

It’s our way of saying ‘thanks’ for checking us out and sharing your thoughts with us.

Good luck, and GO BLACKHAWKS!