[NHL] On The Blue Line

I think I miss the NHL on ESPN.

The Ottawa Senators are pretty good!

Dany Heatley seemed to be a sure fire star when he entered the NHL several years ago. He shined at the 2003 NHL All Star Game by scoring 5 goals and winning the game’s MVP award. Everything was looking good and his team, the Atlanta Thrashers, seemed to be on the cusp of greatness with Heatley and Ilya Kovalchuk leading the charge. Later that year, things turned tragic. On September 29, 2003 Heatley was driving along with fellow Thrasher Dan Snyder and was involved in a speeding accident which split his 2002 Ferrari in half and led to the death of Snyder. Heatley eventually recovered from his injuries but had a plethora of legal and health issues to deal with…not to mention the emotional pain.

Since then, Heatley was sentenced to probation (after pleading guilty to all counts and Snyder’s family asking the courts not to send Heatley to jail), returned to the ice for the Thrashers and all seemed to be back on the road to recovery, all the while the memory of Dan Snyder staying with everyone involved in the situation. However, Heatley had trouble playing in Atlanta and prior to the start of this season, Heatley was traded to the Ottawa Senators for Marian Hossa. The Thrashers are struggling while the Senators are the second best team in the league in points but look like the best team in the league, period. Dominik Hasek might have something to do with that success as well…maybe, but at this point Heatley is on fire. He, along with Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza (another longtime NHL hotshot prospect) may end up 1-2-3 in the league in scoring by the end of the season. Heatley is in the midst of an 18 consecutive game point streak and leads the league in plus/minus and is third in goals with 15. With all the success he has been enjoying early on with his new team, it should be pointed out however, that the loss of Dan Syder will never be forgotten by Heatley or his family.

Many people picked the Senators to win the Stanley Cup in 03-04 and the Sens failed to accomplish that. At this point, if by the looks of things, the Rangers and the Habs are the other top teams in the East, the Senators are very capabale or running through the playoffs en route to FINALLY winning the Cup next spring.

Sean Avery

I’m a Kings fan. Sean Avery happens to play for the Kings.

Yay?

Sometimes, yeah.

Sean Avery is a talented player, there’s NO doubt about it. He can cycle, knows his role on the team, can add some offense and certainly play good defense, he knows how to handle the puck and sticks up for his teammates like no other but that still doesn’t mean he shouldn’t shut up.

Avery got started early this year during the lockout this summer when he said that the players had been ‘brainwashed’ by the union. Tthat didn’t sit too well with many veteran players who felt that Avery hadn’t earned the right to say anything like that due to his limited time in the NHL. Avery also played the role of human resources director when he talked about contraction in the NHL: “I think they can eliminate a lot of Europeans who are mediocre and are taking a lot of jobs”

To Avery’s credit, he showed up in Toronto at the player’s meeting and faced up to the criticism from other players…above of that, he was right about the union but he also planted the seeds for more to come.

Later, during the pre-season, Avery had a few choice comments for French-Canadian players in the NHL after Dennis Gauthier of the Phoenix Coyotes hit Jeremy Roenick and gave old J.R. a concussion. Avery followed the incident by saying it was “typical of most French guys in our league with a visor on.” He went on to say visor-wearing French Canadians “don’t back anything up.”

Yeah, it’s funny, I guess and yeah, he’s only doing it to get under the other guys skin while also letting everyone else know that it was just a pre-season game and hits like that shouldn’t be happening during an ‘exhibition’ game. But very much like the hit on Roenick, it’s borderline. The hit was borderline on cheap and unnecessary and Avery’s comments were borderline on cheap and being ethnic slurs. Sure he was probably kidding, but if you’re saying it, you’re thinking it.

“If he’s looking for a French guy who will back it up, I’m his guy,” Colorado’s Ian Laperriere , a former teammate of Avery, told the Rocky Mountain News . “Print it. I’ll be more than happy to back it up. What really makes me mad is he is taking away too much attention right now. … He should talk about us being back on the ice instead of saying stupid racial things. It’s a racial thing. If he said anything about any other ethnic (group), you’d get fined, suspended. You can’t say that.”

Laperriere played 8 seasons with Los Angeles before signing as a free agent with Colorado during the summer of 2004. A tribute video was shown on the Staples Center video screeens and Laperriere received a standing ovation from the the L.A. crowd last night when the Kings took on the Av’s. And there was no fight between Avery and Laperriere….seems as though Lappy has no problem following his own advice, at least.

In October, Sean Avery was accused of another racial slur when Georges Laraque of the Edmonton Oilers told reporters in Edmonton that Avery called him a “monkey” during a game in Los Angeles.

Avery’s response was that Laraque “fabricated the whole thing” and that he was “surprised” that Laraque would say something like that.

Laraque stood by his accusation; “I heard it or I wouldn’t have (reported it). This is pretty serious stuff, something you don’t play around with.”.

The league couldn’t admonish Avery due to there being no witnesses to the so called ‘slur’ but Avery was once again on the map.

Even if it *was* fabricated, Avery has made it clear in the past during interviews that while he’s on the ice “nothing is off limits”. The only time he has said different was when he made mention that you don’t make fun of Steve Yzerman’s mother. I don’t know why, but that’s what he said. Maybe she’s perfect so any cheap shots are a waste of time.

On November 15, the NHL fined Avery $1,000 for a diving incident during an Oct. 19 game. Avery was obviously not happy about it and decided to talk again…everyone hold on to something!

“How can a guy sitting in an office in New York determine if you dived or not by watching a tape? They don’t know if you had a bad ankle or torn bursa sac or something. I can’t even tell you what play they are talking about. They don’t have to tell you a play, just what game they are looking at.”

The ‘guy’ he is talking about is former NHL player, head coach and front office guy Colin Campbell.

“No question that this is a way to do something to me, it has nothing to do with diving. How can [director of hockey operations] Colin Campbell, or whoever it is, sit at a desk and make that call? They should send the tape to all seven members of the competition committee and let them look at it.”

Despite what Avery might think, the league has been trying to cut down on diving, a routine that has plagued the league just as much as any sort of obstruction, and has a new way of dealing with it. Players will receieve a warning letter after their first offense and the next offense carries a fine. A third diving incident results in a $2,000 fine and a fourth offense warrants a one-game suspension.

The next day, Avery recieved another $1,000 fine for his comments about his previous $1,000 fine. To top it off, Avery took a shot at his own competition commitee when he found out he couldn’t appeal:

“It’s in the collective bargaining agreement. That’s something our great competition committee did.”

Now, we’re heading into December and I’m sure Sean will have plenty of holiday wishes for everyone.

What’s On This Week?

Monday, November 21, 2005

Nashville Vs Red Wings: I’ll take the Preds as the Wings continue their winless slide. That whole central division is a joke anyhow. These two teams get to play Columbus 8 times! Just give them the damn 16 points already. Yeah, the Jackets have Federov now but the guy hasn’t played well in over a year. Tell me that’s wrong!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Ottawa Vs Carolina: Sens, Sens, Sens. Carolina has bounced back this year with a good start and this Eric Staal guy has been tearing things up but it’s Ottawa and Heatley is looking at 19 games with a point.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Colorado vs Detroit: It’s not what it was 10 years ago and it’s not even what it was during the last NHL season but it’s still has some sparkle to it. The rivalry continues this season and it looks like the Av’s won’t be able to match the Wings fire power.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Los Angeles Vs Nashville: Two hot, young teams going at it again. They’re 1-1 thus far and they’re going to split the season series, I know that much. I’ll have the Preds pulling this one out and the Kings can take the next one. Or vice versa.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Philadelphia Vs Boston: The battle of who can stay in second place or lower the longest. The B’s have been miserable so far while the Flyers currently have Simon Gagne and Peter Forsberg gelling well and carrying the team despite the lackluster goaltending. I’ll take Boston. 🙂

Ovechkin or Crosby?

The Rookie of the Year voting will be interesting this year. Ovechkin is the man, though!