Sunday, June 11, 2006

Smyth gives Oilers new life

2006 Stanley Cup Final - Game 3
Oilers 2, Hurricanes 1
Carolina leads series 2-1

You never want to give a team life. But we knew they were going to come out flying being at home. They deserved to win the game. They played harder.”

— Carolina's Cory Stillman

I know I'm a little late, but there's a lot to talk about — especially when it comes to the losing team.

A day after the fact, the one thing that's being talked about on-line is Rod Brind'Amour's refusal to talk to the media following the game. ESPN's E.J. Hradek has a few excellent points on the whole debacle:

This isn't game No. 7 of the regular season. This is the Stanley Cup finals. The event is covered by hundreds of media throughout North America and around the world.

This isn't the time for a team captain to hide in the changing room. That is especially true when you consider that many of the major newspapers in the U.S. opted to pass on covering the event. In fact, so many major papers bailed on the series, the league ripped up the seating chart after Game 1, moving the attending media into the many empty seats.
As a guy who's stood in his fair share of sweaty dressing room hallways, I can't stand when an athletes chooses to do something like this. As Hradek notes, there were literally hundreds of reporters looking to talk to Brind'Amour, and it's part of his role as the Hurricanes captain to show up for those post-game sessions.

Let's say you're a reporter from, say, Finland, there to write about the Stanley Cup final and a guy like Jussi Markkanen. Due to your deadlines, you'll have to file the story almost immediately after the game and there'll be very little time to gather quotes. If a player pulls a stunt like Brind'Amour, you don't get the story.

So much for promoting the NHL.

This is something the league should be fining players for. It's not acceptable.

I definitely understand that Brind'Amour's a competitive guy and that sometimes frustration gets the better of him. Still, part of being a professional athlete is rising above that and being, well, a professional.

If Carolina goes on to win this series, Brind'Amour will likely win the Conn Smyth Trophy. After last night, I have to say I'm a little less excited about that happening.

As for Ryan Smyth's game-winning goal, I really didn't have a problem with it. Red and Black Hockey does a nice job of explaining the controversy:
Although there wasn't any significant contact with the goaltender, the argument was that Smyth interfered with the goalie's ability to defend his crease. Rule 78g: If an attacking player establishes a significant position within the goal crease, so as to obstruct the goalkeeper's vision and impair his ability to defend his goal, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.
The problem I have with that description as it relates to the goal is that Cam Ward's vision wasn't obstructed — he likely saw, or could have seen, the puck the entire play — and his ability to defend the goal wasn't impaired. Already down and out, there was no way Ward would have been able to guard the portion of the crease where Smyth was. (The puck had also deflected off of Ward before hitting Smyth and going in.)

The thing about the crease in hockey is that it's not an impenetrable zone — players can and do score 'good' goals from within the blue paint all the time. And this was one of those.

One last thing about yet another disputed goal from this game...

Ethan Moreau made a beautiful play late in the second period that, in my opinion, should have given the Oilers a short-handed goal and, at that point, a 2-0 lead. Referee Mick McGeough, out of position behind the net, blew the play dead with the puck sitting uncovered between Ward's legs. Seconds after the whistle went, Moreau had picked up the loose puck and shovelled it in.

No one I was watching the game with agreed with me, but I think the blame on the play lies with McGeough. It is a difficult call, there's no doubt, but there are two referees on the ice, and if the puck is free near the goaltender, the ref has to either repositioned himself so that he could see what's happening or defer to his partner on the play.

Back in Game 1, McGeough made a difficult — but correct — call on a scrambly play when Niklas Wallin put his hand on the puck in the crease, and it was all due to the veteran ref being in the right place at the right time. Last night, he simply wasn't.

(When goals are this scant in a big game like this, having even one called back that should have counted is a real shame.)


At 6:57 a.m., June 12, 2006, Blogger alyosha mcbain said...

James--good point about the disallowed Moreau goal...McGeough definitely blew the call on that one. I found Carolina's complaints about Smyth's goal to be humorous in the wake of what should have been a 3-1 loss.

There would've been a riot in Edmonton if they had disallowed Smyth's gamewinner. Glad to see you were miffed by Brind'Amour's no-show at the press conference too. He has always been a crybaby with referees, despite his on-ice excellence--so being childish with the sports media after the game is entirely within character for him.

At 11:42 a.m., June 12, 2006, Blogger Dennis said...

Isn't Mick a bit fat to be an official? I got to thinking about this when I read how former NL ump Eric Gregg had passed away. MLB tried to, not sure if they kept their word, keep some sort of fitness standard for their officials and that's what made me think of Gregg.

In any case Mick just wasn't in position in this case. He managed to get close enough to the action in G1 to see Wallin cover the puck in the crease but he blew this one bigtime.

At 3:26 p.m., June 12, 2006, Blogger mudcrutch79 said...

You're in tune with my old man there Dennis-he was raging about the exact same thing.

At 4:06 p.m., June 12, 2006, Blogger E Colquhoun said...

I had always thought of Brind'Amour as being a class you said "So much for promoting the "New NHL".

Yes, players should be fined for this.

But having guys come out to talk when it is obvious that they really are not ineterested in being there is almost worse then no quote at all. (See Elliot Friedman's interview with Mike Commodore. It was so obvious that Commodore had no interest in doing that interview. But at least he did it.)


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