Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Ridding ourselves of media dirt

I begin this post with a thought. One which the hockey community should identify with. Truth be told, our sport is fourth. Sometimes, even behind golf and horse racing. That's why NBC hypes up the triple crown so much.

Ratings are the No.1 reason networks broadcast. As a former employee of ESPN who worked as an NHL researcher when the Total Sports Network gave our game respect, it's understandable why they all but abandoned hockey. They invested ridiculous money into a contract extension that dwarfed anything NBC ever paid. Some media people have false perceptions. Learning the facts would set them straight.

Unfortunately, when we get to this part of the year there are unknowledgable writers covering our sport who don't have the foggiest clue what constitutes winning the Stanley Cup. What you get is uneducated columns like Filip Bondy's repeated attacks on the Rangers for their "boring style." I never realized blocking shots was against league rules. I must've been asleep when Scott Stevens destroyed anyone in his path and blocked a ton of shots to make life easier on Martin Brodeur during the Devils' first three Cups.

Mr. Bondy is what I like to call a cherry picker. A term loosely used on players who only played one-way, forgetting essentials like team defense. Pavel Bure was one of my favorite players but never excelled defensively. He is still probably the most electrifying scorer I've seen, beating out the more well rounded Pavel Datsyuk. The difference is Datsyuk has the more important hardware in Cups. Bure came close on a well rounded Vancouver team in the early part of his career. He was flat out dangerous every shift against us. But I'll bet he'd trade some of those Rocket Richards for a championship. It still is sad the way his career ended. We never got to really say goodbye. In my opinion, Bure should be in the Hockey Hall Of Fame. Hopefully, one day he'll get there despite his injuries and defensive deficiencies.

Getting back to the loathsome case of Mr. Bondy. He's had a cushy job as a columnist with the New York Daily News, covering whatever he chooses or so it appears. Come to think of it, there's an even more annoying character there known as Mike Lupica who won't even give hockey the time of day and blindly defended his co-worker despite assinine questions to John Tortorella regarding how our team plays. This is the norm, where snakes like Bondy and Lupica sit on their asses without really comprehending the sport.

Ask the Devils if team defense has been part of their great run to a fifth Stanley Cup Finals appearance with that series against the Kings commencing tonight in Newark. Have either Bondy or Lupica ever heard of Larry Robinson? Maybe in passing with the former '00 Devil coach taking over for Robbie Ftorek to win Lord Stanley. Something Pete DeBoer's LA counterpart Darryl Sutter is attempting to do. Robinson is one of the greatest defensemen to ever play the game, amassing 208 goals and 750 assists for a total of 958 points for the Canadiens and Kings over an 20-year career. He helped lead those great Montreal teams to six Cups and finished with the all-time best plus/minus rating of +730.

It's no secret that the man referred to as Big Bird has also been an integral part of Devils' past, helping turn Stevens into one of the greatest defenders the sport's seen while making others into quality players. If you looked at the current '11-12 roster, the guys on a blueline that's been labeled no-name have been better than the sum of its parts. Savvy vet Bryce Salvador exemplifies that by leading with a superb postseason offensively and defensively. One could make the argument that he's been their most consistent player with enough points to be up for the Conn Smythe. That's playoff MVP for the two knuckleheads at The News.

The rest of the list includes offensive minded Marek Zidlicky, understated Andy Greene, Mark Fayne, shot blocking extraordinaire Anton Volchenkov and former King Peter Harrold. Hardly what you'd call championship caliber. But under the tutelage of Robinson, here they are just four wins away from what would be the franchise's defining moment. Toss the other three Cups aside. If the Devils are able to pull this off, it would be their greatest achievment. They've already shown playoff mettle in rallying past Florida, handling the Flyers and outlasting the Rangers. Without the all-time great helping out DeBoer, who's done a fine job in his own right, they're not here. And did we mention that Volchenkov blocks shots? I guess Mr. Bondy hasn't been paying attention.

In another stunning revelation at least for the two clowns, here are the blocked shots breakdown for Games 5 and 6 which the Devils won:

                        Devils     Rangers   
Game 5  16           17
Game 6  15            8

Totals             31           25

Shocking. You mean to tell me the Devils needed to play some rugged D to pull out the Battle Of Hudson. Even in Game One where Brodeur made his off color remark, his team blocked 15 to our 26. Team defense is vital to any playoff success. Just ask the Flyers and Pens. You can't get this far without sacrificing for the good of your teammates. Everyone's laying it on the line. That's why it's hockey where players are tougher than almost every other sport. They're playing with broken bones, parts, etc. That's why Tortorella didn't use the "tired" excuse following his team's exit. It would be unfair to New Jersey.

To win the greatest trophy in all of sports, you have to be able to play in all three ends. That includes the neutral zone, which probably is another foreign concept to Mr. Bondy, who probably didn't care for the Devils' old style that helped them win.

I'm not going to dispute that good offenses aren't exciting. Under DeBoer, these Devs play more aggressively, pressing the attack. It's not all that different from our team in '94. But in order to play this way, you have to be fully committed taking risks. If an opponent is able to execute short passes and work the puck past their pinching D, they're screwed. Los Angeles is a more skilled opponent than they've faced, who also can play in their end. It should be an intriguing match-up. Both teams come at you with size, speed and strength. It could come down to whichever goalie cracks first. Or simply put, which team can dictate in the trenches.

The Devils wore the Rangers down. Still, they were right there the final two games, showing the kind of resilience that defined them. I guess Mr. Bondy doesn't care for that either. Objective. He might want to look it up.

1 comment:

Hasan said...

Bondy's just annoyed because his post-Game 1 prediction of the Rangers winning in 5 and lighting victory cigars got proved to be false lol...but yeah, a big element of the media does actively seek to tear down the NHL.

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