Wheel Of Justice: Morally Bankrupt

From the “in case you missed it” files, there were a couple of questionable (read: scummy) hits recently that were brought to the attention of NHL Disciplinarian Colin Campbell.  One of the hits I took a look at the other day in my post analyzing the broadcasts from Colorado and Washington regarding David Koci’s dirtbag hit on Capitals defenseman Mike Green.  For the video of that hit (take your choice of which one to watch) I kindly ask to check it out there.

The other hit came from Ottawa’s 2-0 win over Buffalo Wednesday night and involved a couple of rather notorious figures in the eyes of the NHL:  Senators forward Jarkko Ruutu and Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta.  These two guys have reputations as ugly as anything in the league so when they come together in an ugly play… It’s usually tough to get people to feel bad for the guy that feels the brunt of the attack.  In this case, it was Patrick Kaleta getting the worst of everything.  (Video suggestion: mute the audio unless you want to hear what Rick Jeanneret sounds like on quaaludes)

The fun part about this brutal hit, which knocked Kaleta out of the game, is that there’s nothing accidental about what Ruutu did here.  He was running Kaleta, a guy who plays the game generally the same way as Ruutu, and he was making sure he was going to hurt him because he was clearly gunning for his head.

So you’ve got two obviously dirty and brutal hits and where does the league come down on this, especially since both involved head injuries of some sort?


David Koci of the Colorado Avalanche has been fined for his hit on Washington Capitals defenceman Mike Green, while Ottawa Senators winger Jarkko Ruutu has been fined for his hit on Buffalo Sabres’ Patrick Kaleta.

For those of you checking in on the Wheel of Justice, I’ve got a surveillance photo taken directly from Colin Campbell’s office for how he came up with just a fine for both of these dirty hits.

WoJcloseupYou just know this is how it went down.

I’d like an explanation as to how or why two guys with reputations and, in at least Ruutu’s case, prior transgressions for which he’s been punished by the league get off with fines and no suspensions at all.  I thought curing the league of dirty head shots was a big deal to the NHL but this decision, specifically against Ruutu, is irresponsibly inconsistent by the league.

This isn’t a situation like with Philadelphia’s Mike Richards earlier this year where you could sort of make a case against suspending him for hitting Florida’s David Booth – Jarkko Ruutu’s hit on Patrick Kaleta is scummy, dirty and the exact kind of thing the league should be punishing severely.  Instead, it gets let go with a weak fine. This is where I want the league to be more forthcoming as to why they make the decisions the way they do.  Too many times the result of the hit plays into what the punishment is which means most  of the intentionally dirty stuff that doesn’t connect and seriously injure a player goes unpunished.  A lot of people treat the “intent vs. results” debate as a “chicken or egg” kind of situation, meaning that if a guy’s intent is to put a hurt on another player is there but he fails that makes it OK.

I can’t imagine a line of thought being more violently incorrect.

Take a look at that video of Ruutu on Kaleta again and try to explain to me how Jarkko Ruutu was just playing the game “the right way” and how him gunning for another player’s head (regardless of who that player is) is OK.  I’m sure the excuse is that he was chasing after the puck and checking his man.  Never mind that his man has his back turned to Ruutu the entire time and nevermind that Ruutu also made no effort to play the puck while skating in at full speed from outside of the zone and then delivering a shoulder to the head of Patrick Kaleta.

I can’t imagine there being more things wrong with this entire scenario, but it’s only deserving of a fine in the eyes of Colin Campbell.  The league is busy, again, talking out of both sides of its mouth in regard to head shots trying to placate the Players Union as well as the fans who both clamor for an end to these things and to those who say it’s all “part of the game” and guys should suck it up.

The league can’t make everyone happy here but coming up with some sort of concrete method to the madness regarding dirty play and suspensions for committing offenses like these has to come out of all this.  There have been too many instances where we the fans and I’m sure the players as well are left scratching our collective heads wondering what is going through the head of Colin Campbell when he goes to his smoky back room to come up with some kind of action against offending players.  Every other major sports league has some kind of step-ladder for doling out punishment for breaking the rules like this yet somehow the NHL can’t remove its head from its own ass to create their own.

I know… I’m as shocked as the rest of you are that this is how this league chooses to operate.   After all, there’s no such thing as bad publicity, right?

How Not To Conduct A Broadcast

Since most folks are going to be talking about what they think the Wheel of Justice is going to bring forth for Colorado Avalanche forward David Koci after brutally charging and boarding Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green as the Avs were down 5-0 late in the second period, I’m going to take a look at something not having to do with what happened on the ice, but rather the broadcast booth for both CSN-Washington and Denver’s Altitude Network.  I’m just hoping I don’t step on the shoes of  Puck The Media’s Steve Lepore too much by doing this.

Checking out the You Tube videos of the hit, the first one I checked out was from Altitude featuring play-by-play man Mike Haynes and color analyst Peter McNab.  Haynes, I admit, is a guy I’m not the biggest fan of.  He’s got a bit of a nasally voice which also bears a startling resemblance to radio talk show host Sean Hannity.  McNab has been the color voice for Avalanche games since the franchise moved to Denver and he’s gotten some big time work doing games on NBC and work for TSN in Canada as well.  Haynes, like anyone doing the hometown broadcast, is most certainly a homer and, in this case, he’s wearing the burgundy quite well.

OK so he’s a bit into the fight and why not, his team is getting trounced and Koci beating in John Erskine’s head might be the one bit of success the Avs might have on the night. That said, Mike Haynes… Act like you’ve been there before and maybe reigning it in a bit after Koci had just delivered a brutally dirty hit might be the right thing to do.

Don’t get me wrong here, I’m certainly not advocating homer broadcasters play it completely down the middle. I’ve only ever worked games as a homer broadcaster and in all of zero of the games I’ve ever called have I ever really played it down the middle.  Don’t believe me?  Well here, give this a listen from the game I did last week between Boston University and RPI.  I’m the color commentator and second voice you’ll hear on there, the play-by-play man is the illustrious Perry Laskaris.

Now while Haynes got caught up in the heat of the moment  and went a little monster truck rally with the fight, he certainly kept it professional after the commercial break and gets kudos for that but given the situation with a player down on the ice and the assailant then duking it out for his transgressions… Perhaps the better part of valor would’ve been to say, “Koci had to know this was going to happen and if this is his way of firing up his team…” and then drive it into lecture mode.

I’ll call that my foreshadowing moment because as we check out CSN-Washington’s broadcast featuring Joe Beninati on play-by-play (who I’ve ripped on plenty both here and on Twitter) and Craig Loughlin on color, you’ll see exactly how to handle this situation on the air.

Amazingly, Beninati (who I chide constantly for hamming up his broadcast delivery) hits this right on the nose the whole way through and Loughlin who is about as big of a homer color man as there is in the business, provides some spot-on perfect analysis of everything the whole way through.  Loughlin is informative and analytical while Beninati delivers the correct kind of delivery for the situation with equal parts disgust, somberness and “Oh shit, this is going to be a brouhaha. ”

To get this kind of tempered production out of Beninati helps make me look like a jerk whenever I pick on him about his work on Versus.  That said, his work on Comcast Sports Net-Washington is generally pretty good and I find that I don’t mind listening to him call Caps games on there.  This also helps show me why folks from D.C./Virginia/Maryland that hear him for the entirety of a season would think I was being an unruly mob of one when trashing the guy.

My bad folks.

I’d have to assume this is just what the difference is between a guy who has done national broadcasts versus a guy who is strictly a hometown guy and for that I should go a little easier on them, but what’s the fun in that?  The fun in this, this time around, is that I’m now sticking up and lauding Joe Beninati.  I’m clearly losing my edge here.

ESPN: Contra Cl-Owned

Being that this is a hockey site, we enjoy bringing up ESPN failures in hockey coverage. ESPN has provided a jackpot of hilarity today.

It started this morning when ESPN insisted that Mike Green and Donald Brashear were being looked at for potential suspensions for their actions in Game 6 against the Rangers.

I’m sorry… Mike Green?! The same Mike Green that isn’t noted for his defensive prowess at all?


Turns out that was all part of a joke played on ESPN. ESPN retracted their story after a half hour.

The jokes haven’t ended there today for the World Wide Leader.

If I might get my “Jump To Conclusions” mat out, it looks like ESPN has upset the space-time continuum courtesy of old-school 80s video gamers.

Code Of Honor: Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, Start

This afternoon, word started circulating around Internet forums that if you visited ESPN’s website and entered in the Contra Code you would find an amusing result.

Obviously I’m an easy sheep to snare but this was worth it to give it a look-see. Click to enlarge it, of course:

It’s like Napoleon Dynamite’s Trapper Keeper crapped on ESPN’s homepage.

I don’t know what’s funnier about this, NASCAR being front page material or the unicorns or the horse from 80s kids show Rainbow Brite being prominently involved.

Whoever the mad geniuses behind these presumably unrelated pranks are are hilarious and deserve a pat on the back.

That is unless they’ve hacked everyone’s computer – which in that case I’d like them to be burned at the stake while tarred and feathered.

Like I said, this is loosely related to hockey but too hilarious to NOT share. I’ll call this karmic retribution for being wholly ignorant of the NHL.

Snap Judgments Blow

I know that a lot of folks want to make their judgments on how the playoffs will go after one game, which is really fucking stupid.

I know I don’t usually swear around you guys but the fucking hockey media is fucking making me do it.

Denis Leary approved that rant and theft of his act because I write about hockey, assholes.

Sure, I could come out now and say that I think that there’s ZERO point in having any more games of the Penguins-Flyers series because the Flyers looked beyond putrid and that all they’re going to do over the next three games (yeah, I feel that confident) is take cheap shots and try to purposefully injure people.

You know, like Daniel Carcillo.

I could go that route very easily.

I won’t.

I could also talk about how irrevocably inconsistent the NHL is in that it suspended Carcillo a game for that for “message sending” but won’t do the same to Mike Cammalleri of the Calgary Flames for doing THE EXACT SAME THING to the Blackhawks Martin Havlat.

Yet, Cammalleri will not be suspended by the NHL because, apparently the only difference between these two cheap and brutal shots to the head (Hey, remember that whole initiative Gary? How about you Colin?) is when they occurred during the game.

Actually the NHL’s actual reason is even more worthless than timing: It’s because it’s Cammalleri’s first offense.


Other snap judgments I could make after Game 1 are:

How the playoffs could be the undoing of Mike Green’s campaign for Norris given how he allowed Sean Avery to play him like a chump. Save the complaints, I know the awards are based on regular season play. I’m sure the voters are really on top of these things. Right…

How the Blue Jackets look terrified of being in the playoffs and should’ve faced off with the San Jose Sharks just to see if an NHL series could end with neither team moving on.

How the Anaheim Ducks are reaching back into the 2007 Stanley Cup Playoffs playbook for how to get away with murder on the sneak.

How the St. Louis Blues and Vancouver Canucks series will make wish to meet up with Dr. Kevorkian if I watch any more of that crap.

I don’t care if Vancouver is playing dirty or if St. Louis is too busy crying about getting abused like a teenage girlfriend from her ‘roided up football player boyfriend.

I don’t care, it’s boring and the Sedin Twins freak me the fuck out. They remind me of something I saw in a movie once…

Just jump ahead to the 0:25 second mark of that bad boy and you’ll laugh your ass off for a week. Or vomit. Either way, it’s a winner.

I won’t make those snap judgments though because they’re classically stupid. Expect better analysis than that after the weekend because even I’m a bit spooked by Chris Osgood’s outstanding goaltending against the Blue Jackets. Does that mean we just throw away everything that happened in the regular season now?

My head hurts.