Thanks as always for the continuing stream of questions for the mailbag column. If you're just starting out as a reader of this feature, remember, it now appears twice a week (Tuesdays and Fridays) exclusively on THN.com.
It seems to me that league discipline depends on who you are as a player and which team you play for.Chris Pronger committed two suspendable infractions within a week last season and only was suspended for one playoff game each. Both infractions were vicious headshots, but because it was Chris Pronger, a superstar, and he played for a team who in my opinion the NHL wanted to win the Stanley Cup, he was given the absolute least they could!There is a fairly long list of stars who should have gotten harsher discipline but were instead let off easy because of who they were/are.It is my opinion that Colin Campbell, like his predecessor Brian Burke, is incapable of making an arbitrary decision when it comes to disciplining players who commit excessive fouls.My question...finally....is, do you think the NHL has been fair in the discipline they have levied and not levied to ALL offending players?As well, in light of the latest incidents in the NHL and the inconsistencies in discipline, do you think the NHL has lost control of the players? I do.Thank you for your time!
First, let me say I'm not one of those people who believes Campbell is a cause or symptom of the NHL's larger problem with controlling its players. The league's chief disciplinarian can only act as the commissioner and owners wish him to, so even if another man took the position, the present-day problems would remain.
But I agree the league's punitive measures have lacked both the consistency and the necessary impact to truly discourage players from losing their minds on the ice.
You're absolutely correct that Pronger should have been suspended for longer last year, but, as evidenced by the Steve Downie and Jesse Boulerice bans, I get the sense the NHL is finally starting to get it.
Of course, the only true test of whether they do will come when a superstar is the offender, but I can't see how the league can back away now after establishing the bar with the two Flyers.
If they did, all involved would be even bigger laughingstocks than they've been in the past.
The Ottawa Senators are looking to sign Jason Spezza before he becomes an restricted free agent this summer. With the latest case of Dustin Penner being signed by the Oilers, a team will probably be looking to sweep Spezza up with a nifty raise.I can only imagine three teams willing to do so Â– those being: Dallas, Atlanta and Boston. Do you think I'm right, or are there other teams willing to dish out four first round picks and $50-60 Million?
Thanks, Joel P.
When it comes to a talent such as Spezza, I think there are many more teams than the Stars, Thrashers and Bruins who'll be interested. In fact, there's a Blue White-wearing team in the city in which The Hockey News operates that would sacrifice many of its alumni (the team's, not The Hockey News') for the opportunity to bring in a native son who's always been intrigued by the prospects of playing in his hometown.
Some teams, including that Blue & White-wearing one, may not have the salary cap space to sign him right now. But trust me, if a GM learned (through the usual back channels) that Spezza would be interested in signing with them, the offer would get made in a heartbeat and they'd figure out a way to make him fit under the salary cap after that.
I am wondering how I can become hockey literate. I would like to know about the divisions, rules, a bit of the history, etc.It's not that hockey in itself fascinates me, but in the world of business relations it is a hell of an icebreaker. Any books or websites to recommend?Merci,
Daniel T., MontrÃ©al
One of the best resources out there, both for casual and hardcore fans alike, is the Total Hockey Encyclopedia, a massive compendium of statistics, history and records that serves as the official encyclopedia of the NHL.
The book was originally published in 1998, so you won't find many references to the game's more modern players. But it's still the ideal educational tome for hockey newbies and veterans alike.
Other than this sucker, I mean.
How good are Theoren Fleury's chances of getting into the Hall of Fame? His accomplishments seem to make him worthy, but I'm wondering if his issues with substance abuse might overshadow his merits.Coming from someone who grew up on hockey in the Â‘90s, I felt Theo was one of the period's best. I hope he isn't remembered for his bitter ending in the NHL, but for how entertaining of an athlete he was during the prime of his career.
Nicholas H., Ottawa, Ont.
Unfortunately, Fleury seems to fall into a select group who won't make it into the HHOF due to a combination of borderline statistics and controversial off-ice factors (i.e., problems with the law or general nasty behavior). Others in this group include Tom Barrasso (general surliness), Phil Housley (strip club fight) and Dino Ciccarelli (indecent exposure) Â– all great players, but all somewhat tainted in one way or another.
Fleury was certainly a hockey force during his prime, but the manner in which he flamed out, both on the ice and off it, put him squarely behind the eight ball for HHOF induction.
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