As always, the Penalty Box denizens have much to say about a variety of topics. This week’s mailbag includes observations on checks to the head, the instigator rule, the current points system, Bobby Orr, the Chicago Blackhawks and Life of Agony. Needless to say, it is enough variety to keep any CTN fan happy. So, dig in and enjoy. And don’t forget, your voice can be heard in future additions of the Penalty Box. Just drop CTN a line at firstname.lastname@example.org with your comment, question or complaints. Make sure to include your name and address and you, too, can spend a few minutes in CTN’s world-famous sin bin. Now, on to the letters!
First and foremost, though I'm sure your mailbag has been flooded with this message, I'll still say congrats on the new bundle of joy. How soon do you figure it will be before you strap skates on her and put a stick in her hands? Excellent points in response to the e-mail from Raymond from China. I totally agree that the League is cracking down and doing an excellent job and understanding sometimes head shots aren't on purpose. For instance, the Randy Jones incident -- clearly he had no intention of injuring Bergeron and, in my opinion, the League saw that and didn't penalize him as harshly. I also agree about the instigator. It's clear that we will never be rid of the guys whose job it is to go after the talented players, so penalizing the guys who defend the talent is just silly. As for the one-point OT loss, I've been saying it for a long time, they ought to give three points for a regulation win. To me it makes logical sense, if a game goes to OT then suddenly a mysterious extra point is up for grabs, so isn't it only fair that if a team wins in regulation they get all three points? I think it is. In fairness I'm probably quite bitter since my beloved Avalanche missed the playoffs last year by a single point despite having more wins than the Flames.
Hope you enjoyed your holiday,
-- Tyler Moyes, Cambridge, Ontario
Tyler, thanks for the note. One never gets tired of well wishes on the birth of a child and CTN is no different. Little CTN is doing well and she will soon by enlisted to play goal in the raging floor hockey games with CTN’s 3-year-old that already dominate the CTN kitchen floor at all hours of the day and night. The three-points-for-a-win argument has been around from the introduction of the shootout a few years ago and will likely remain for as long as the tie-breaking procedure is in existence. That argument certainly has some valid points. But CTN also does not see a problem with the current system. Every team knows the rules when the season starts, so they can play accordingly. If they need points, wins suddenly become paramount. But let CTN say this as an unabashed hockey fundamentalist, CTN sees little wrong with old-fashioned ties. There’s nothing wrong with two teams being adjudged equal after 60 minutes (or even 65) and splitting equally the points at stake.
I've been wanting to write ever since CTN started up again, but just haven't been able to get the e-mails sent out. Congratulations on the new arrival! Hopefully she'll grow up to become a big hockey fan and maybe even become the next CTN writer. I thought that your "heavenly teams" were very well written. I've always wanted to see Bobby Orr play, but am stuck with the wonderful talent that we have to watch right now. I've always thought that the way certain players are compared can't work with the way the game changes and evolves. Sidney Crosby is a phenomenal talent, but might have a hard time reaching Gretzky's numbers simply because Gretzky played when the average number of goals scored during a game hovered around seven and eight, while right now the total seems to hang around five to five-and-a-half in the last few seasons. Also, we might not get an Orr-like player for many years, or never again, just because a talent like that is so rare. There are a high number of offensive defenseman that might be available in the next draft. Thank goodness there seems to be a conveyor-belt if endless talent.
-- Phil, Canada
Phil, it is great to hear from you again. Was wondering what had happened to one of the many Penalty Box regulars. Glad you could check again and thanks for the kind words about baby CTN. As for Bobby Orr, one of my earliest hockey memories is of watching Orr play at the end of his career in Boston. CTN remembers little of his childhood -- much to his mother’s chagrin – but CTN does have vague recollections of watching Orr play on the TV. Then, as CTN got older, he remembers Orr being talked about in reverential tones whenever the game’s greats were discussed. Heck, at one point CTN looked into taking ballet because he had heard that Orr took ballet as a child to make himself a better skater. So, CTN, like you, has always wanted to see Orr play at his best and hopes that such a spectacle is part of the eternal reward that awaits. As for comparing players, it is extremely difficult. But, CTN does believe that Orr is – hands down – the best defenseman to ever play the game. Simply put, he helped revolutionize the position, and to a lesser degree, the sort. CTN also does not cover his ears when some fans have the audacity to say Orr is the best player to ever strap on a pair of skates. To CTN, there is more than a little validity to that argument. You are also right in stating that the talent we have on display in today’s NHL is nothing to sneeze it. There are players on NHL ice surfaces today – Sakic, Heatley, Brodeur, Crosby, Ovechkin, to name a few – that will be considered all-time players 50 years from now when our progeny have the same arguments in this very space.
Where do you hide this Crashing the Net thing these days ? Yesterday evening (Thursday morning in Toronto) I did find the CTN for this week on the front page. And yet, if I go through Features to Crashing the Net, I read your CTN from Nov 8. I couldn't read CTN from the last two weeks. What happened, Shawn? Am I the only one who doesn't find it any more?
Nicolas, thanks for the concern on CTN’s whereabouts. It is always nice to feel wanted. We had a little trouble with the features age last week, but it has since been resolved and you can now find the latest edition of CTN there (http://www.nhl.com/features/index.html), as well as a convenient place to view all the quality editorial content published on a weekly basis by NHL.com. There was no Crashing the Net two weeks ago because CTN took a week off to enjoy a little parental leave from his hockey duties. But, now CTN is back and better than ever. If you ever have trouble finding it again, just drop CTN a note and you will be rapidly pointed in the right direction. After all, CTN can use all the readers/friends possible.
I was just wondering how it is possible that Sergei Gonchar was not even given a spot on this year's All-Star ballot. He is consistently one of, if not the, leading scorer(s) among NHL defensemen. He also kills on the power play. I realize that Ryan Whitney is a younger player, and maybe having two Penguins on the ballot as defensemen would be a little much. However, come on, it seems a little absurd. He's leading the League in scoring by defensemen right now. Thanks,
-- Ryan I was wondering if you knew anything about how the All-Star ballot is chosen. I don't really understand it. Sergei Gonchar was left off despite being this season's highest scoring d-man and last year’s second place. Dan Boyle is on there and he's hardly played at all this season. I was just wondering if you could shed any light on the situation.
***In the Opening Faceoff from Nov. 8 (http://www.nhl.com/nhl/app?articleid=342634&page=NewsPage&service=page) you said "This list also is about those players who may have been around for a little while but are now playing better than anyone had the right to expect." Yet you forgot, or intentionally chose not to mention, the stellar play of Chris Osgood in net for Detroit. Osgood came off the bench, caught on fire and posted a .930 save percentage. He leads the League with a 1.65 GAA. With his record of 10-1-1, combined with the abysmal play of Dominik Hasek, “Ozzy” has to have lots of people wondering (me included) why he isn't No. 1 in Detroit. You gave recognition to Gerber and Leclaire, but no love to “Ozzy.” Why CTN?
-- Travis, Ypsilanti, Mich.
Travis, an excellent inquiry, my friend. As you suggest, CTN deliberately chose not to mention Osgood because CTN is not all that shocked at what the Detroit keeper has done. Let’s not forget Travis, Osgood has more than 600 NHL appearances on his resume, has been a long-time No. 1 and won a Stanley Cup. So, stepping in for an injured Dominik Hasek and being among the best goalies in the League should not be all that surprising when it comes to Osgood. Yes, Gerber was a No. 1 in the past, but never to the extent that Osgood was. And, he botched the No. 1 job in Ottawa so badly last season that few thought he could fight his way all the way back. And, Leclaire is a young goalie that had not really shown any signs before this fall that he had figured out the NHL game. I think that makes them ideal for the theme CTN was expounding on, don’t you?
***"Life of Agony lead singer Keith Caputo is planning to release a solo album soon. Red Hot Chili Pepper star Flea will make a guest appearance on the trumpet. That alone will make it worth a listen. But Caputo also has one of the best voices in heavy metal, as evidenced by his work on LOA's "River Runs Red" album. From reports, though, the solo work will be very different from his stuff with Life of Agony." – CTN from last week.
I do agree with this and am myself looking forward to Keith's new solo album, although his first solo album wasn't on par with LOA’s back catalogue. It was quite a chilled affair with some nice melodies. I prefer to hear him roaring "The river runs red and I think I'm dying, oh yeah"! Anyway, down to some hockey. I'm really enjoying the season so far, even though coverage in Britain sucks! Especially Chicago, great to see them on the rise and Kane and Toews are awesome. Nice Thanksgiving article and keep up the good work!
A crying leafs fan in sunny UK,
-- Aidan Vedder
***I had to wipe my eyes a few times, making sure I was really reading about Keith & LOA on nhl.com. Keith actually has a few solo albums out already, all very different from LOA. Here is a link to 35-second samples of all the songs from the new album -- http://www.elevatorium.org/KeithCaputo/new.html. I've been a fan of your column for awhile, I read them all. I just became a bigger one, awesome.
Aidan, I agree 100-percent about the power of Keith’s primal screaming with LOA. Underground off the River Runs Red album was the soundtrack of the 2003 Stanley Cup Final for me. CTN almost wore out the CD because he played it so many times during that two-week trip. But, CTN admires anyone that is willing to take a chance and chase his dreams and, obviously, that is what Keith is doing. Bill, thanks for the link, can’t wait to give the new disc a test drive in the near future. CTN is glad to hear you are a fan of the column and urges you to keep reading.