[NHL] On The Blue Line

How non existant has the NHL been in media coverage of the Stanley Cup Finals? Well, except for the drug policy stuff. It’s to the point where not even complaining about it makes me feel better. Some things will never change and one of those things is the NHL having any sort of credibility on major broadcast television.

Here’s an e-mail from my main man, Colin.

Hey man,

Good to see that you finally got the Robitaille tribute up. I was beginning to think you had put it up already and I had missed it.

Back in the day – late 80s, early 90s – my step-pops would take me to one Leaf game a season. I never gave a rat’s as5 about the Leafs, but I got to go see the awesome old school uniforms of the Canucks (the full orange), the North Stars, and the great rivalry with the Blackhawks. And this is in the Gardens; I’ve never been to a game in the ACC.

We eventually had to stop going to games, because Leaf fans are so dumb that they let ticket prices skyrocket and still sell out the building. Anyway, one of the last games I remember going to see was when the Kings came to town; I had, afterall, been pestering my stepdad to get Kings tickets for years. And it just so happened that Gretzky was injured at the time, so Luc had the C, and he was on the cover of the official programme.

Here’s to the guy that has won Calders, Stanley Cups, Canada Cups (still the best international tournament ever), World Championships (scoring the winning goal in a shootout, no less), Junior Championships, the #1 point getter amoung LWs, and still doesn’t get any press. Here’s to one of the elite players of all time.



That’s some pretty damn good stuff. I remember the year that Luc took over the ‘C’ for Gretzky (Thanks Melrose!) and I’m sure no Kings fan doesn’t. Not surprising that that was the year that the Kings made it to the Cup Finals. Had it not been for Luc’s stellar play in Gretzky’s absence then having a fresh and rejuvenated Gretzky come back to the lineup and guide the Kings through the playoffs might not have happened. I’ll tell you what, the Kings can’t match up to the storied history of the Maple Leafs and I root for the Leafs as much as anyone because that franchise or it’s fans, at least, deserve success but I’ll be damned if that organization isn’t more in trouble than the Kings currently are.

Over in Jersey, the Devils have hired Claude Julien as their new head coach after going through a very good stretch of play during GM Lou Lamoriello’s stint as interim head coach. Julien comes in after having been fired as coach of the Canadiens in January and will try to become the fourth former Hab to lead the Devils to a Cup. He’ll have a good shot this upcoming season but the Devils are on their last legs as annual Stanley Cup contenders.

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (one of On The Blue Line’s favorite NHL cities) was rocking for Game 3 of the Cup Finals. Aside from the Oilers showing some life by eventually winning the game 2-1 (and then losing Game 4 to fall behind in the series 3 games to 1) the Copper and Blue faithful were in full force when the entire residency inside Rexall Place sang both The Star Bangled Banner and Oh Canada in unison. NBC had enough brains to broadcast a pregame show and covered the singing of the national anthems which served to foretell the electricity in the building and in the city of Edmonton itself. The Oilers were off to a hot start on the ice, quickly taking a 1-0 lead from a point shot by Shawn Horcoff at 2:31 of the first period. The hero of the game ended up being Ryan Smyth thanks to his game winning goal scored with under 3 minutes left to play in the game. Game 3 was definitely the best game of the series thus far and tonight, the Hurricanes look to lock up the series and skate the Cup around their home rink.

Fans in Hartford rejoice! But probably not.

Seeing as how the 2007 NHL All Star Game will be taking place in Dallas, the Stars have optioned to keep two time All-Star Jere Lehtinen. Although those two facts have little to no correlation, but wouldn’t it be something if they did?!?

Lehtinen, who once again is a Selke Trophy finalist this year, has played his entire NHL career with the Stars after being drafted by the Minnesota NorthStars in 1992. He led the Stars with 33 goals this past season and had 4 points (3-1=4) during the Stars first round loss to the Colorado Avalanche.

Finally, as we all know, every player in the NHL is a HGH using junkie and thank goodness that we have the Chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency, Dick Pound (make your own jokes) to let us all know that we’re being duped by those lying bastards over in the NHL.

”All we can do is keep drawing the attention of the public to its shortcomings and make sure the public understands that it’s being fooled by the NHL when it says it has a serious testing program…I think they should make clear what they test for and what they don’t. And make it clear when they’re testing out of competition and in competition. And make it clear they don’t test before and after games. And they don’t test in the off-season and that they only test for steroids” said Pound.”

According to the anti-doping test results for NHL players there were ZERO positive results among the 1,406 administered during the season.

These tests are a joint venture between the NHL and the NHLPA which is cause for concern as neither side would want any bad press spilling out about any NHL player being on the juice or otherwise.

Pound, however, is a longtime IOC pusherman who has had a lot of influence over the organization. Who knows what this guy would still be saying about baseball and MLB players if baseball were still an Olympic sport. But since he doesn’t have those guys to pick on anymore(It doesn’t mean he’s kept his mouth shut about them but there is certainly a vast amount of evidence to condone such criticism in that case) Pound has set the NHL as his target since late last year.

Two NHL’ers have failed drug tests, namely Bryan Berard of the Columbus Blue Jackets (who failed his test on November 12th) and Jose Theodore of the Avalanche (failed on December 9th). Both failed tests, however, were administered by their national teams. Berard was tested by the U.S. anit-doping agency and Theodore by the Canadian version thus the NHL had no say or control over the testing.

In accordance to the NHL’s anti-doping program, a first-time offender faces a 20-game suspension. A second offense leads to a 60-game suspension and a third offence results in a permanent suspension. No one has yet to serve any of those consequences.

Berard has been banned from international competition for two years for showing signs of the 19-norandrosterone steroid. Theodore was removed from contention of making it to Team Canada for testing positive to Finasteride, which is used to mask steroid use but is also found in hair-restoration products and we all know, Theo’s got pretty hair.

As for Pound, part of his job is to always be on top of sports leagues, major league or minor league, and it’s players to be tested continually at any point of the season or off-season. That’s an admirable thing to do, it takes some guts and a lot of free time to be playing hallway monitor for a bunch of billion dollar sports leagues to keep their players on the straightedge. We have other organizations out there that keep an eye on insurance companies and other big industry practices so this is nothing out of the ordinary.

According to Pound, what IS out of the ordinary is having over 1,000 tests administered and having NO positive results for anything.

According to Pound, the NHL hasn’t made any mention of what it tests for or when it tests.

According the to CBA agrerement between the NHL and the NHLPA:

Per the agreement, every NHL player will be subject to up to two “no-notice” tests every year, with at least one such test to be conducted on a team-wide basis. Players will be subject to “no-notice” testing at any time.

Doesn’t say anything about off-season testing, but that’s pretty damn random and a tough way for a player to dodge the test or be prepared for it.

The joint Committee also will agree on a Prohibited Substances List. The list will include performance-enhancing substances on the list maintained by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) for both in-competition and out-of-competition testing. Changes to the items included on the Prohibited List can only be as negotiated by the NHL and NHLPA.

Dick Pound has the list of what the NHL “tests for” right on his desk.

Over time, and to the extent feasible, the Program Committee will endeavor to develop an “approved list” of nutritional supplements, which will have been tested and certified as being free of prohibited substances.

The scope of the new Performance-Enhancing Substances Program will be limited to performance-enhancing substances. All other forms of “substance abuse” and behavioral and domestic issues involving players requiring employee assistance will continue to be handled through the NHL/NHLPA Program for Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health that was established in 1996.


The Program will employ a strict liability standard for test positives, at the levels established by the Program Committee. A Player will, however, have the right to appeal a positive test result to the Impartial Arbitrator, with such appeal to be heard on an expedited basis.

Test results will be kept confidential to the extent practicable. There will be no public announcement of any kind until the appeal process has been exhausted and the final disciplinary determination has been imposed. Once a positive test has been confirmed after appeal, the Player suspended will be identified, and it will be announced that the Player “has been suspended for violating the terms of the NHL/NHLPA Program for Performance Enhancing Substances.

This anti-doping agreement hasn’t even been in effect for a year and from the sounds of it, it’s a hell of a lot more than what MLB or even the NBA is willing to employ. All we can ask right now is that Dick Pound just simply shut up. He can nail guys via national anti-doping testing programs as it’s nearly impossible to have a program that can be at 100% in effectively catching any form of sports enhancing drugs or other.

What’s much more annoying and irresponsible is for Dick Pound to call the results of the NHL’s testing “meaningless” as if it was just a number tossed out there to impress everyone. I’ll leave all the stuff about suing Pound to Don Cherry. That’s an entirely different nutcase right there.