Perception is everything
Trotz lauded for discipline; Gillis vilified
Some random observations as the playoffs proceed and the Vancouver Canucks’ season gets a little smaller in the rear view mirror.
Not surprisingly, everyone was jumping up and down patting Nashville’s Barry Trotz and David Poile on the back for suspending their two late-night Russians for Wednesday night’s Game 3, which the Predators predictably won.
After all, they had acted selfishly by going out the night before a playoff game and were clearly not fit to play. When the team found out, it took the right measure.
Switch to Vancouver Canucks general manager Mike Gillis, who decides to trade a young player in Cody Hodgson for what he feels were behaviour patterns indicating the player was more concerned with his own wellbeing than that of the team.
Yet, for making the same type of decision made by Trotz and Poile, he is vilified by a frontpage story in which he is called a “moron” by somebody 3,000 miles from the scene. And people wonder why these guys are often puzzled by the behaviour of the media.
The last thing Gillis wanted to do was trade the very first draft pick his administration ever made, particularly after he had steered the scouting staff away from Kyle Beach in that ’08 draft.
He desperately wanted, and likely still wants, Hodgson to succeed because he had a lot invested in the kid.
But enough was enough, so he acted in what he clearly believed to be the best interests of the team, and yet he gets grief while Trotz and Poile are taking bows for essentially making the same move.
Perhaps things would have turned out differently for the Nashville duo had the Predators lost Game 3, but that’s pure guesswork at this point.
And while we’re on the topic of that game, if ever there was a game to watch for and imagine manipulation, that was the one — referee Stephen Walkom front and centre of course.
The theory goes something like this: The last thing the league wanted was the Coyotes to go up 3-0 in that series because not only would there be loss of revenue in a short series in an already small-revenue second round meeting, it’s unseemly to have a league-owned team prancing through the playoffs.
Cue the game. The first penalty was a lame “holding-the-stick” call on Marc Antoine Pouliot putting the Preds on the power play, getting the crowd into it and giving the home side some momentum. They score a little later, after the end of the penalty.
Then Martin Erat literally hacks a puck off Oliver EkmanLarsson as he’s skating the puck out of his own zone, but no call. Erat passes it to two open teammates late coming out of the offensive zone and it’s 2-0.
And once a two-goal lead is established, the Preds were punished for having a two-goal lead, so the Coyotes get a couple of power plays. But then Nashville gets the next three power plays whenever Phoenix might get a little momentum to mount a comeback. And then once the game is coming down the stretch and well in Nashville’s hands, the Coyotes get a couple more power plays to somewhat even out the calls on the scoresheet.
Not saying anything here, just telling fellow whackos like me what to look for when it’s totally predictable — and folks, this was a classic illustration of exactly how it can be done.
Finally, a little further west, are the L.A. Kings just a little bit like the old Oakland Raiders of the NFL?
Not only are the team colours the same, the Kings roster is largely made up of castoffs from other teams, some of them even coming in with less than perfect reputations. While Mike Richards and Jeff Carter aren’t quite the seedy fellows that once adorned the Raiders’ roster, there’s been the usual whispering about having a little too much fun — for a hockey player at least.
Dustin Penner and Jarret Stoll came in as underachievers and until these playoffs have done very little to discourage that perception.
Willie Mitchell was signed by L.A. when other teams weren’t willing to take on the risk he wouldn’t suffer another concussion, and even coach Darryl Sutter was taken off the slag heap by GM Dean Lombardi in an act of desperation when Terry Murray couldn’t get this roster to rent a goal.
Teams like this just naturally seem to pick up the casual fan rooting for the underdog, and this crew is no exception.