Friday, December 19, 2008

York Called Up -- Decisions To Make -- NHL Letter

Per Puck-Rakers, Mike York has been recalled from Syracuse to join the club, and Clay Wilson has been returned. We need to see if Brassard formally goes on IR today, which will then put some decisions on the desks of Hitch and Howson.

Complicating matters is Leclaire's continued poor play. 6 goals last night, 5 goals to Anaheim, 5 against Detroit, 7 against Edmonton. That's 23 goals in his last 4 starts -- almost 6 GPG. Dead last among eligible goalies in Save %. He needs to go to Syracuse and work the kinks out and get his confidence back. But who to back up Mason???? I think Mr. Howson will be burning a bit of midnight oil.

So, what will the lines look like for Phoenix? Here is one possible scenario:

Nash -- Umberger -- Voracek
Modin -- Peca -- Huselius
York -- Malhotra -- Dorsett
Boll -- Novotny -- Picard

Finally, I've been receiving communications from various sources about calls and letters being directed at the NHL about last night's fiasco. Keep 'em coming, but let's not go overboard and let's not do stuff to hurt the Jackets (canceling orders for merchandise, etc.) Here is the text of my communique to the NHL:

Dear Commissioner Bettman/Mr. Campbell:

Lest you think that the following are the ramblings of a deranged hockey fan, I want to assure you that I am not a conspiracy theorist, a believer in black helicopters or a member of the lunatic fringe. I like to consider myself a reasonable, well - educated former attorney who immensely enjoys the game of hockey. However, recent events have caused me to seriously question the integrity of the NHL, particularly with respect to the Columbus Bluejackets.

Having had the pleasure of attending Oakland/California Golden Seals games in my youth, and being in attendance at the first San Jose Sharks game in my native SF Bay Area, I was delighted when the NHL expanded to my new home in Columbus. We have been season ticket holders since Day 1, and believe we have a great organization, a great arena, and this year, a really good team that is just beginning to assimilate all of the new players into a cohesive unit.

As the team struggled through the early years, I was not surprised to see us come up on the short end of more than our share of officiating calls. The price of admission to the league, as they say, and every sport has its version of this. It is not right, but it exists. You work through it and come out on the other side. However, the persistence of this bias, and the blatant manipulation of the video replay process, particularly this year, has reached intolerable proportions.

Last night’s game between Dallas and the Bluejackets is just the most recent example of the NHL bias against the club. Malhotra takes the puck backhands it, and it goes behind Turco’s right leg. Malhotra is hit from behind by Ott, sprawls forward, veering to his left as he goes airborne from the hit, trying to avoid Turco. He trips over Turco’s left leg, while the puck is still free in the crease, and as he is flying to the boards, the puck goes off his skate and in. Both referees immediately signal it as a goal. But this is the NHL, and Columbus is apparently not considered worthy of two nice victories in a row. Toronto reverses, claiming a “distinct kicking motion”. Hogwash. The player was airborne, due to a hit from the defenseman, not even looking at the puck. Even Dallas was astonished that the play was reviewed, much less reversed. Isn’t there supposed to be “conclusive” evidence for Toronto to overturn a ruling on the ice? While the NHL network was conveniently silent on the call last night, I have found nobody who believes that this was anything but a goal.

Let’s go back to Minnesota on October 25th. Nash scores the apparent game tying goal as the game is ending. Called a goal on the ice. Toronto reviews, says “inconclusive”. Under the rules, the goal stands, right? Wrong. Despite falsely telling the crowd that Toronto overturned the ruling on the ice, we later learn that after Toronto says “inconclusive” the officials take a vote, and 3 of the 4 believe it was hit with a high stick. No goal. How is that permissible?

The list goes on and on. Calgary (last year, I think) – shot stays out – referee signals no goal, but light and goal horn go off, everyone relaxes, Calgary guy taps puck in. Goal on the tap in. It happens over and over, and has now become something of a joke in Columbus. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad. Take a look at the quick whistles in last night’s game. Shameful stuff.

The NHL needs to provide a clear explanation to the fans of Columbus as to why and how the rules are repeatedly bent, inconsistently interpreted and otherwise ignored, to their detriment. Coach Hitchcock is correct – we won the hockey game last night. I am sure you will fine him – go ahead. We might all chip in and pay it for him. Even to someone who is not a conspiracy nut, it looks increasingly like the NHL would prefer the Columbus team to dry up, so that it can be moved to Ontario or another venue more fitting to the NY and Canadian hockey establishments.

We love the game, and will stand by our team. I think you owe it to us, and to the integrity of the game to look hard at this situation and provide an explanation. It simply has to stop.

Thank you for your time.

Might be some interesting times ahead. I will keep my ear to the tracks and post what I learn here. Please chip in with your comments. Go Jackets!!1

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice letter. Keep up the good work and let us know what you hear back, although I'm willing to bet it is a big goose-egg.