Monday, January 9, 2012

How the NHL should handle suspensions

When I was bored last night and was going through my bookmarked web-sites in search of something to do, I stumbled across this article from Adam Proteau over at The Hockey News. After reading it, I came up with a new system for assessing suspensions in the NHL that would focus more on deterrence than punishment.

It goes a little something like this:

1st Offense: Number of Games Suspended and Fine Assessed is based solely on the severity of the incident.
2nd Offense: Number of Games Suspended and Fine Assessed is based on the severity of the incident IN ADDITION TO the Number of Games Suspended and Fine Assessed from the first offense.
3rd Offense (and 4th, 5th, 6th, etc...): Number of Games Suspended and Fine Assessed is based on the severity of the incident IN ADDITION TO the Number of Games Suspended and Fine Assessed from all previous offenses.

Take Daniel Carcillo, who finds himself suspended for 7 games for an egregiously dirty hit on Edmonton's Tom Gilbert. Carcillo has been suspended for a total of 19 games across the length of his pugnacious career. This is what his rap sheet would look like under my proposed guidelines.

10/17/2008 - Suspended for 2 Games (Total Suspension Length: 2 Games)
12/6/2009 - Suspended for 4 Games in addition to 2 Accrued Games (Total Suspension Length: 6 Games)
3/30/2010 - Suspended for 2 Games in addition to 6 Accrued Games (Total Suspension Length: 8 Games)
5/17/2011 - Suspended for 2 Games in addition to 8 Accrued Games (Total Suspension Length: 10 Games)
10/29/2011 - Suspended for 2 Games in addition to 10 Accrued Games (Total Suspension Length: 12 Games)
1/4/2012 - Suspended for 7 Games in addition to 12 Accrued Games (Total Suspension Length: 19 Games)

Think about this: if Carcillo had just come off of a 12 game suspension (in addition to what would probably be a pretty hefty financial penalty) for his hit on Joni Pitkanen in October and he saw Tom Gilbert in an almost identical vulnerable position, do you think he would have finished that hit?

Think about it from a GM or coach's perspective. Do you really want a guy on your team who, facing the threat of at least a 13 game suspension, hits someone so recklessly? At what point do you stop paying for a player and start making donations straight to the Retired Players Fund?

Purely out of interest, I did the numbers on a few more of the NHL's serial delinquents.

Matt Cooke - Pittsburgh
2/21/2004 - Suspended for 2 Games (TSL: 2)
1/27/2009 - Suspended for 2 Games (TSL: 4)
11/29/2009 - Suspended for 2 Games (TSL: 6)
2/9/2011 - Suspended for 4 Games (TSL:10)
3/21/2011- Suspended for 10 Reg. Season Games and First Round of Playoffs (TSL:17)
-Total Games Suspended: 39

(The rationale for not adding the playoff games for which he was suspended is that it would probably be a little odd to link a policy this drastic to how successful any given team is in the playoffs)

Andy Sutton - Edmonton
10/15/2005 - Suspended for 4 Games (TSL:4)
11/1/2011- Suspended for 5 Games (TSL: 9)
12/31/2011- Suspended for 8 Games (TSL: 17)
-Total Games Suspended: 30

Jody Shelley - Philadelphia
12/5/2002 - Suspended for 1 Game (TSL: 1)
2/23/2003 - Suspended for 2 Games (TSL: 3)
3/25/2004 - Suspended for 3 Games (TSL: 6)
12/13/2010 - Suspended for 2 Games (TSL: 8)
12/29/2010 - Suspended for 2 Games (TSL: 10)
9/22/2011 - Suspended for 5 Games (TSL: 15)
-Total Games Suspended: 43

Trevor Gillies - New York I.
3/2/2011 - Suspended for 9 Games (TSL: 9)
3/30/2011 - Suspended for 10 Games (TSL:19)
-Total Games Suspended: 28

(This one I find interesting because Gillies is the kind of player who gravitates towards mind-numbing violence worthy of suspension during the 6 minutes or so that he's on the ice. Would he have taken a run at Cal Clutterbuck like he did last year if there was a 19 game suspension and an even heavier fine on the other side of it?)

And since this is ultimately a Dallas Stars blog, I have to avoid being a homer by highlighting Dallas' history of bad behavior. Fortunately, only one Stars player has been suspended more than once in his career.

You have one guess as to who that is.

Steve Ott
3/12/2008 - Suspended for 3 Games (TSL: 3)
3/2/2009 - Suspended for 1 Game (TSL: 4)
10/27/2009 - Suspended for 2 Games (TSL: 6)
-Total Games Suspended: 13

The thing about this strategy that will probably hold it or anything like it back from coming to fruition would be how drastic a measure it is. This would result in a very large amount of wasted money for several different parties, but the fact that it would be stopped for that reason alone just goes to show how deep-seated the violent culture in the NHL has become.

Proteau's article featured this quote from Daniel Carcillo:
“It’s weird now. Now, you have to process every hit that you're about to make. It's really, really hard. But if you don't want to sit out games and get fined, you have to start doing it.”
 Proteau responded with this:
"Yeah, imagine that – you have to actually be responsible for your play. The fact Carcillo has suddenly arrived at this important philosophical conclusion tells you all you need to know about how little of an impression all his previous run-ins with the long arm of the NHL’s law have made on him."
And he's absolutely right. Something needs to change.

Would taking fighting out of the game fix it? Re-introducing a little bit of the interference from the old days? Limiting the number of skaters a team can dress to 17 as to eliminate the Rent-a-Thugs?

Strangely enough, the last option (which I will admit was the most attractive one to me before research) might not have as far-reaching an effect as some think. I recently took a look at the kinds of players who are inflicting concussions around the league. Based on TSN's injury list, I found that only one of the players responsible for concussing a player on the list played less than 10 minutes a night on average. This was limited to the list on the day I researched it, mind you, but it still speaks to the fundamental issue at the center of the debate.

It's not the amount of players on the bench that needs changing, it's the culture of the game.

Someone somewhere needs to make it very clear that it's not okay to throw yourself around the ice indiscriminately like a red shell from Mario Kart. Sheriff Shanny is in a prime position to do just that by coming down hard and firm on the league's ne'er-do-wells.

Some might say that changing the sport in such a way will "pacify" a game that has become known for its physicality. That seems a bit strange to me. The whole time I've been a hockey fan, I was under the impression that the objective was to score more goals than the opposing team. The Stanley Cup is ultimately awarded to the team that does this the best, not the team who has inflicted the most bangs and bruises.

When I was first starting to learn how to hit and be hit as a Peewee hockey player, my coach told basically summed up hitting in a simple sentence. He told us that the point of hitting in hockey was to separate a puck-carrier from the puck, not to hurt the puck-carrier. This is why the notion that the whole point of the NHL is actually just to pay a bunch of people to run into other people came as a bit of a shock to me.

If players start to complain that their livelihoods would be at stake were they to be subjected to such a strict change, they need only be reminded that there are players in this league whose livelihoods are already being compromised.

They're the ones playing by the rules.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Worst Summer of Our Lives

Now that we're back from our nearly 3 month hiatus (read: lazy break), we feel as though it's a good time to turn off the abrasive lightheartedness and acknowledge the tragic losses the hockey community has suffered this summer.

Three tough guys losing their lives far before their time and just a few days ago an entire team of players being suddenly taken from us.

There really aren't any words to describe it. Hopefully the rest of the hockey world will band together and play their hearts out in honor of those who can't anymore this year.

We leave you with a couple of links that really pulled at our heartstrings.
Dinamo Minsk's touching tribute to Lokomotiv Yaroslavl
An absolutely gutwrenching story about the Skrastins family

(On that last one, unfortunately the author had to remove the story out of respect for the family. The comments still pay tribute to Skrastins, though.)

BREAKING: Stars Sale Imminent

According to news from Dallas Stars employees (read: workers from the warehouse in the team store in Frisco), the sale of the Dallas Stars to an as of yet unknown party is going to happen "very very soon".

"We had a meeting that we're getting paid tomorrow because the club is declaring bankruptcy and freezing accounts tomorrow," says the source. "This is so the new owners won't take on our debt and shit. Basically we're being sold very very soon, things are going to court to finalize stuff."

UPDATE 1: Our anonymous source, who will henceforth be called "Rimjob" a la Woodward and Bernstein, has told us that his boss' superior held the meeting earlier today with 7 other employees from the merchandise department.

UPDATE 2: For those who are calling BS, and there are a few of you, consider it like this: If they freeze the accounts and declare bankruptcy tomorrow and the sale doesn't come within the month, it means that every person that works in the Starcenters, from the shop workers to the zamboni drivers, are not going to get paid what they are owed on the 30th.

I'm not an expert on bankruptcy law, but I'm pretty sure that not paying the people who work for you is illegal.

More details to come as they emerge

Saturday, July 2, 2011

It Is Written

Hockey Fans, yesterday Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk gave us a sign. That sign said "I read and enjoy the commentary on Six Six Hicks."

Why, we hear you asking?

Adam Pardy, Vernon Fiddler, Radek Dvorak, Michael Ryder, Jake Dowell, and Sheldon Souray. Six free agents. That's just biblical right there.

But seriously, holy signings Batman.

We're making a pledge here and now to profile every member of the Stars' roster (and some brief prospect profiles) by the time the season starts up again, so for right now we'll go signing by signing and add our commentary.

Adam Pardy - Defenseman - 2 years / $4 million
The money here is a head scratcher, but given the fact that the Stars were $10 million under the floor at the beginning of the day, it's understandable that they overspent a little bit. According to the Razor Boy and his new Twitter, Pardy started out his career as a "deer in headlights" defenseman which brings up glaring red lights shaped like the outline of a Matt Niskanen defensive error. Luckily, though, he finally realized that he's 6'2" and 206 pounds and started to use it.
What Makes Us Hopeful: He's got the size and a short term deal.
What Makes Us Worried: Several Flames fans identified him as the worst Flames player on the ice on several occasions.
Potential Nicknames: Pardy Time, Excellent, Wayne, Garth

Vernon Fiddler - Center - 3 years / $5.4 million
At the beginning of the day when the first three signings came out, it was extremely worrying that Vernon Fiddler was being called the best Stars deal of the day. Luckily, GM Joe got busy and found others to throw money at, so we can finally see the Fiddler deal as what it is: Smart. Damn smart. Fiddler was one of the best faceoff men in the league last year and has a penchant for killing penalties.
What Makes Us Hopeful: Oh hey! Faceoff wins!
What Makes Us Worried: The biggest of three signings including Adam Pardy and Radek Dvorak, which makes up the terrifying "Didn't he used to play for Nashville or something?" line.
Potential Nicknames: Roof Man, Raise the Roof, Mini-Me, Little Bit of Country, Garth

Radek Dvorak - Right Wing - 1 Year / $1.5 million
When this deal went through, we immediately consulted the Oracle formerly known as Wikipedia thinking to ourselves "Oh hey didn't this guy hit 30 goals at some point in his career?". Our answer was that yes, he did score 31 one year. The problem? That was 11 years ago with New York. His highest total since then was 17.
What Makes Us Hopeful: We mean... it's a veteran to play on the fourth line we guess. That and his one year deal means we have someone to keep a portion of Jamie Benn's cap hit warm for next summer.
What Makes Us Worried: He's on the wrong side of 35, which means he's lost a step when he only had about three to give.
Potential Nicknames: Devo, Whip It, The Eradekator, Garth

Michael Ryder - Right Wing - 2 Years / $7 million
Now this is what we're talking about. To start the day Stars fans were foaming at the mouth for some premier free agent talent and we finally got it after a few hours. We were at the Stars development camp today when we read that this deal had gone through and took no shame in the fact that we let out a very audible "hah!" while Bob McKenzie delivered the twitter goods.
What Makes Us Hopeful: Never scored less than 30 points in his career, Stars have a great pedigree of adding players from cup winning teams.
What Makes Us Worried: There have been several worries about work ethic over the years, worries that are made more worrisome by the fact that he's going to have a rookie coach behind the bench.
Potential Nicknames: KITT, Hasselhoff, Goldilocks, Garth

Sheldon Souray - Defenseman - 1 year / $1.65 million
There are two words to describe this signing and they are "Studly Wonderbomb". We're not going to lie, we weren't crazy about this signing. But then we realized that Dallas is A.) going to have a new powerplay quarterback with a cannon that could shoot right through Wolverine's skeleton and B.) is going to be one Angelica Bridges stronger.
What Makes Us Hopeful: Dude's got a howitzer.
What Makes Us Worried: He scored 19 points last season. In the AHL.
Potential Nicknames: Studly Wonderbomb, Garth

Jake Dowell - Center - 1 year / $800,000
This is, bar none, our favorite signing of the day. The reason for that odd claim? This signing is just bursting with the hard-working aroma of last summer's Adam Burish signing. Mostly because Dowell was Burish's teammate both in Wisconsin and in Chicago, but partly because, as this heart-wrenching THN interview details , Dowell is probably the de facto Stars candidate for the Masterton Trophy this year. He's been through hell in his life and he's done the incredible by making it to an NHL roster. That is exactly the kind of player that needs to be in the Stars locker room.
What Makes Us Hopeful: This might just define the term "heart and soul player".
What Makes Us Worried: Let's be honest, we aren't expecting 20 goals. The only worry we have is that he'll lose his work ethic, and we just don't see that happening to a guy whose been through so much.
Potential Nicknames: The Dowell Jones Industrial, Garth

Stay tuned for the start of the Player Profile series.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Welcome to Dallas to Jamie the Giant

We're running out of nicknames for players named Jamie, mostly because we used up at least six on Jamie Benn alone, but Dallas' newest Jamie (full name: Jamieson) has made it easy for us.

Six Six Hicks officially welcomes Jamie "The Giant" Oleksiak to the Dallas Stars family.

Stay tuned for more nicknames tomorrow after the rest of the draft is concluded.