Randy Cunneyworth (left) took over as head coach of the Montreal Canadiens on an interim basis when Jacques Martin (right) was fired. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)
In the absence of news about another coach being fired – but hey, the day is still young – here are a bunch of things that have been bothering me lately:
• That Hockey Canada insists on forcing a perp walk on the young men who have just been cut from the Canadian junior national team. This is one silly, overhyped and unnecessary practice that has to stop.
There is so much about the World Junior Championship that is just way too over the top and this is one of them. Imagine you’re 18 years old and you’ve dreamed all your career to make this team, then you’re woken up by a 6 a.m. call from the coach informing you that you’ve just been cut. Then to add to the humiliation, you have to walk out into a hotel lobby full of microphones and people asking what went wrong and wondering whether you thought you did everything you could to make the team.
Hockey Canada, in concert with TSN, has hyped this event to ridiculous proportions in Canada and this is one ugly byproduct of that. And in 99 percent of the cases where the player isn’t Brett Lindros, it doesn’t even make for good TV. All it does is shine a spotlight on a player who has failed. When I covered these camps back in the day, I never once went to one of these morning cattle calls because (a) I was more interested in sleeping; (b) I thought my readers cared more about the players who were actually in camp than those who weren’t; and, (c) I thought it was dumb.
• That there are parents out there who think it’s a good idea to get up and leave their kids’ school holiday concert the moment their Little Johnny has finished performing, often trampling out of the auditorium in the middle of another performance. By the time the last group does its performance, they often play to a half-empty auditorium.
• That the house league in which I coach my son’s team arbitrarily came out in the middle of the season with a rule change that gives two points for an assist and one for a goal. Funny, I always thought the idea was that assists were just as important as goals (which they’re not, by the way), not more important than goals.
As a consequence, I have one player who recently scored five goals in a game, but was outscored by one of his teammates who had three assists. This is the same kid who has 18 goals and four assists this season, which puts him just five points ahead of another kid on the team who has one goal and 10 assists.
• Still on the issue of minor hockey: In our Select League, I have to pay a five-dollar admission charge for my son for a game in which he is playing. So let’s say we play 30 games this season, that’s an extra $150 added to our minor hockey bill for the season.
It’s not just the big expenses in hockey that make it out of reach for many people, it’s the thousands nicks and cuts like that one as well. I have no problem with charging parents and other spectators, after all somebody has to pay for the ice, but the players already pay to play with their registration fees for the season.
• That it seems the consistency in NHL discipline has improved only marginally, if at all, under the watch of Brendan Shanahan. For the most part, I still have no idea what merits a suspension and what doesn’t in the NHL these days.
• That the Montreal Canadiens can’t even appoint a unilingual interim coach without the usual bleating from the usual suspects of how this somehow is tantamount to oppression of an aggrieved majority. Should anyone, French or English, care what the Parti Quebecois thinks about the coach of the Canadiens?
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