Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Fire Starter

Today the big news in Colorado isn’t necessarily the ugly bastardization of the fine game of hockey by the Minnesota Wild, but that we’ve got wildfires a blazin’ south of Denver. It must be that time of year again…the time when the first round of “climate change doesn’t exist” editorials begin to pop up in the news from local Republican business leaders who can not or do not want to adapt to a changing world, so they deny the existence of change entirely.

I mean, it isn’t their fault if people want to keep buying Yukon’s and supporting sprawl…wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Just make sure you wear extra sunblock when you go out today…oh and don’t worry about the “campfire” smell, the government puts that into the air to attract tourists. Also, if you are interested in acquiring sunblock and mesquite car scent they are available on aisle 643 at the Wal Mart, where there’s ample parking available.

To me change is inevitable; it is a fact of life. The strong adapt and the weak are diminished. In the case of the Avalanche their adaptation to playing desperate hockey seems to have taken place about five minutes after their 3-2 OT loss the night before.

Here’s a tip for Joel Quenneville: get your team to score somewhere in the area of three goals a game and the Wild will be finished before the middle of next week.

Otherwise this series will get nastier, despite Peter Forsberg’s post-game theory that the next game might not be so violent. (Forsberg’s post-game quips came as a surprise to me considering he was probably bleeding internally)

You want to gum up the ice and cheap shot anyone not on your team Minnesota? That’s okay; the Avalanche will just outscore you. There lies the problem for the Wild. They simply don’t have the capacity to come back from large deficits, so their response to the Avalanche onslaught last night was to slash, rough or board anything that moved.

If Stephane "Frenchy" Vellieux isn’t suspended by the end of today for leaving his feet while driving Paul Stastny’s head into the boards from behind, that will be the most shocking verdict of the series. Thankfully Paul is already missing his front teeth, so the hit didn’t get bloody. If anything, my only real satisfaction to come out of last night (aside from the Avs posting five goals against an ordinarily stout defense) was to see Derrick Boogaard get run out of the building.

To some the 111 penalty minutes racked up by the Wild came as a surprise, but to this writer it only serves as vindication. What else were we to expect from a team that ices three fighters (Simon, Fedoruk, and Boogaard) as well as a host of muckers and grinders whose mission is to keep shots down and fear in the minds of opponents?

As Ryan Smyth so aptly pointed out after the game, “this is hockey.” There are games like this that happen in the playoffs, with some teams flying off the handle more than others. And during these games there is little else that can be done outside of fighting back, as was shown in the 43 minutes of penalty time accrued by the home team.

Even still, is this the kind of hockey we want to see? In the “New NHL” why is it that some coaches in the West still insist on playing jungle hockey? I understand the notion of parity and how good defense is the best offense. I also agree that this season seemed to be more tightly contested than others due to parity. But what happened last night wasn’t “hockey”. Someone is going to get severely hurt.

If Jacques Lemaire wishes to coach the Charlestown Chiefs and the Hanson Brothers, then let him do so in the ECHL. Just don’t allow him to send any more “messages” as the coach of a team in what is supposed to be the most skilled league in professional hockey.

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