Ilya Kovalchuk gets set for a faceoff against the Buffalo Sabres. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/NHLI via Getty Images)
It’s been a great week, hasn’t it? I was medically induced into a coma Tuesday night just to make sure I wouldn’t be bummed out for the next four years, but fortunately stuff worked out well and I was brought out of it the next morning.
Yes, I can…move on to your questions now.
I saw in your blog that big Georges Laraque donated to the Obama presidential campaign; I just caught his comments about U.S. politics.
I thought fighters were just big dumb guys, but I guess I was wrong.
PS: I’m sorry this is not a question, but I just wanted your thoughts.
Justin Daskaluk, Ypsilanti, Mich.
I’ll bet you can guess my thoughts on the election results. But I’ve never believed fighters were lacking for brainpower. In fact, I’ve got a whole lot of respect for those guys, especially after I’ve heard so many of them talk about the stress – both physical and mental – that comes with their job duties.
I have also come to appreciate the players over the years who have started out as goons, but learned how to play the game – such as Tie Domi, Chris Neil, and Chris Simon (before he misplaced some marbles and began stepping on and swinging at opponents). They could’ve been happy simply collecting a check for grievously assaulting human beings, but they became something more and contributed to their teams and the sport in honorable fashion.
Ultimately, it’s the culture of the game, as well as the owners and coaches and league administrators, that share culpability for the near-total absence of respect you see in today’s NHL. Guys like Laraque are just filling a “help wanted” ad.
Just wondering what you would do, either strategy, trades/roster moves, if you were "the guy" in Atlanta. It seems like they are building the depth they need, but they can't seem to keep it together every game. And no, I'm not Don Waddell.
David Reed, Atlanta
Glad you (and a few other readers) brought this up, because it’s the subject of my next column in Nov. 24 edition of The Hockey News magazine (on newsstands next week; look for Luke Schenn on the cover).
Well, it’s sort of the topic for my next column. I don’t outline all the ways the team should be changed (800 words just doesn’t get you what it once did), but I do argue that Ilya Kovalchuk needs to be traded as quickly as possible.
You’ll have to pick up the issue for the entire argument, but sufficed to say a franchise that still doesn’t have a road win, looks destined for the draft lottery and has the 30th-ranked percentage of seats filled for home games even with Kovalchuk in the lineup would be wise to cash in their biggest bargaining chip now.
If not, Kovalchuk is almost assuredly going to leave when he becomes an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2010, leaving the Thrashers (and Waddell’s replacement) with zilch. I’m no Sam Pollock, but that’s no way to build a winner.
I agree with you and the other writers who disagree with the NHL's injury disclosure "policy." I find it interesting that on one hand many current and former players espouse the respect that players have for one another, while Dave Andreychuck says that players may/would focus on an opponent’s injured body part.
I really need a copy of "The Code" that professional athletes use. On to my question: should I have used "hypocritical" or "interesting" in my second sentence?
J.R. Remke, Chicago
Now that’s an entertainingly phrased question.
There is no doubt the NHL’s Byzantine code has superseded the actual rulebook for decades, much to the detriment of the game. It’s a combination of boogeyman fear mongering, Kurosawa movies and out-and-out bloodlust that never holds up to even the slightest hint of logic.
Asking the players to police themselves is like asking virtually any professional group to police itself. It can’t be done.
Love the blogs and columns. Just a couple questions for you: One of my favorite former Leafs, Chad Kilger, is still not playing in the NHL. I understand he didn't report to Florida last year for personal reasons, but has he decided his NHL career is now finished?
Should he want to return to the NHL, would Florida welcome him into their lineup again, or is there bad blood between them because of his suspension?
Matt F., London, Ont.
I appreciate your kind words. Kilger hasn’t officially announced his retirement and he’ll turn 32 toward the end of this month, so there’s no reason he couldn’t return to the game once he gets his off-ice affairs in order.
Kilger has told Panthers GM Jacques Martin he would want to play for Florida if he did return. But as any top-level athlete will tell you, once you step away from a sport for a good period of time, it’s very difficult to step back in and hope to be anywhere close to the player you used to be.
I always enjoy reading your column; it's one of the few that I look forward to.
I was wondering, though, if you have ever thought about or been approached to do some TV panel commentary. Quite frankly, I would rather watch your candid approach to covering the game alongside a guy like James Duthie as opposed to the canned commentary of Bob McKenzie, the inflammatory rants of Mike Milbury, and the INCESSANT SHOUTING OF KEITH JONES.
My other question is, with the success (in my opinion) of the CBC's Hockey Night In Canada theme song competition, do you expect we will see more fan-driven creativity and decision making in hockey, like fan-designed third-jerseys or starting lines?
James B., Toronto
You realize you’ve entered a club that may be one of the most exclusive in the world – the “More Proteau On TV” Club – right? I mean, membership here does have its privileges, but those privileges amount to little more than my eternal gratitude.
I’d like to think I do my fair share of boobtubery, whether it’s debating on TSN’s Off The Record or Sun TV’s The Grill Room. Of course, further employment opportunities are always welcome. For more info, please email me (note: please don’t actually email me) at Iworkonthecheap@thehockeynews.com.
To your second question: I don’t necessarily expect to see a spike in fan-driven components of the game – I’m taking it that your “starting line” notion was made with tongue-in-cheek – but I’ve long held the opinion that the NHL doesn’t do nearly enough to harness the energy emanating from its rabid customer base.
In fact, the NHL’s long history of cloak-and-dagger marketing – remember when they weren’t going to televise the lottery to decide who would land Sidney Crosby? – may qualify as its dumbest corporate move ever.
And that’s saying something.
Ask Adam appears Fridays only on TheHockeyNews.com. To send us your question or comment, click HERE.
Adam Proteau is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays, his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.
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