Saturday, December 23, 2006


Thanks to a poster over on the Caps official discussion boards, The Peerless came across these musings from the Toronto Star.

All The Peerless can say is, ENOUGH ALREADY!!!"

Here's the money quote:

"Imagine, for example, if [Sidney] Crosby was a Chicago Blackhawk and [Alex] Ovechkin a member of the Los Angeles Kings.

"Or if Ovechkin was in Philly and Crosby was a Ranger.

"Now you'd have something cooking."

OK, Mr. Cox, here's what I'd imagine . . .

If Crosby was a Blackhawk, he'd be playing for the worst franchise in the league, and no amount of '87' jersey sales would change that fact. The Blackhawks would never seriously compete for a Stanley Cup. They might make the playoffs from time to time, but Bill Wirtz would never make the last investments he would have to make to get a Cup for the Windy City. Crosby would be sentenced to a career that would be haunted by the title, "best player never to win a Cup."

If Ovechkin was a King, he's be dressed in the worst uniform in the league playing for a club at least as boring, by its own historical standard, as the Caps. A club with no particular history of its own to speak of (sorry, Wayne Gretzky wrote his history in Edmonton), it has the personality of the Clippers of the NBA, which is to say, none. This is a club that tried a personality infusion through the signing of Jeremy Roenick, for heaven's sake.

If Ovechkin was a Flyer . . . well, so what? Since the 1974-75 season -- the last time the Flyers won the Cup -- what Flyer has been a poster boy for the league? Eric Lindros? Ron Hextall? please... The Flyers draw well -- they will do so without Ovechkin -- but do they make fans across North America think, "hockey?" Not lately, and Ovechkin doesn't make them a playoff team in the next couple of years, either, even if you dropped him smack in the middle of their current lineup.

If Crosby was a Ranger . . . he'd compete with Derek Jeter and the Jints and the soap opera that is the New York Knicks . . . not to mention the possibility of the Brooklyn Nets . . . for space on the back page of the tabloids. Would he make a bigger impact than Jaromir Jagr? Perhaps, in time, but . . . so? And, does he make the Rangers a bona fide contender? In this case, he probably does (providing Jagr is still there...if not, no).

But let's get to the bottom line....would these imaginings improve the NHL's television ratings? National TV lineups are a product of reputation, and not generally that of players. Winning, either by tradition or recently, means something. Buffalo has eight appearances on Versus this year . . . Detroit, the Rangers, and Colorado have seven (so does Pittsburgh -- the Crosby Effect -- but then again, so does Boston, which I can't figure out). Washington, with one of those players noted in this article, have two (one against Crosby). That's not a product of love -- real or perceived -- but wins and losses, which have been a problem in these parts recently.

There is nothing particularly special about Colorado as a hockey hotbed. They've had good college teams, but no one is going to confuse Denver with Minneapolis as a hockey haven. The Avalanche have done it with sustained excellence (of course, now we'll see what happens that they've taken a step backward on the ice -- they're 13th in attendance at the moment). The team sucked in Quebec, but the addition of Patrick Roy and the development of Joe Sakic were crucial to the success they finally achieved. And, attendance (not to mention TV attention) followed suit. The same might yet hold true for Ovechkin in Washington and Crosby in (one hopes) Pittsburgh. As for the cities mentioned, I'm not seeing exactly what the benefit of having either player displaying their skills in those cities means overall to those cities or the league.

Frankly, this "Ovechkin and Crosby in unloving cities" nonsense has grown past tiresome. It's reached into the realm of silly envy, which reveals itself in Cox' own comment at the end of his article . . .

"The [Toronto] Maple Leafs will get a close look at both players over the next six days, Ovechkin tonight and then Crosby and the Pens next Friday.

"That'll give Leaf fans their chance to daydream what it would be like to have either in a blue-and-white uniform."

Enough already...

The Morning After -- Caps vs. Devils

Well, now we’re going to see why it is that the Caps aren’t at all a sure thing to make the playoffs this year . . .


The Caps lost a game last night to a good, if not great Devils team – the product of the play of a great, not just good goaltender, Martin Brodeur. But that was incidental to the bigger picture – as Tarik El-Bashir reports in this morning’s Post, the Caps are without the services of Matt Bradley (broken finger), Richard Zednik (abdominal surgery), Bryan Muir (broken foot), John Erskine (broken foot), and Shaone Morrisonn (flu). All except perhaps Morrisonn will be out for a stretch of games.

A young team that loses almost a third of its starting skaters might not be expected to maintain for any significant length of time the performance level they’ve enjoyed (in this case, the Caps are still the 8-seed in the Eastern Conference this morning). Holes get filled by the likes of Alexandre Giroux (three NHL games of experience) and Jeff Schultz (first NHL game last night). Another call-up from Hershey is expected before the Caps take the ice against Toronto tonight. One can speak of this as an opportunity for others to step up (it is) and a chance to see a couple of kids playing well at Hershey on the bigger stage (it is), but it makes a young team younger and an inexperienced team in the ways of winning at this level more so.

The Caps’ problems were evident last night. The Devils executed their game plan – take advantage of the power play (2-for-4), shot down the Caps’ power play (0-for-4), make things tough for Alex Ovechkin (five shots, but not a large factor for most of the game).

On the other hand, the Caps put forth a credible effort and had some chances, especially early in the contest, but it was a case of having too few bullets in the gun to compete at the same level with a veteran team such as the Devils.

This is a dangerous part of the schedule for the Caps coming up. From now until their next division game (Atlanta, January 9), the Caps have only one game against a team not competing for a playoff spot (Phoenix). They start in Toronto tonight, then face off with Buffalo, Montreal, the Devils once more, the Rangers, that Phoenix game on New Year’s Day, and Montreal again, before returning to division play. Doing it with a somewhat depleted team makes the task just that much harder. The Caps have 37 points in 34 games. If they take the ice against Atlanta on January 9th with, say, 44 points in 41 games, they might be said to have weathered a storm . . .

. . . provided they incur no other major injuries.

That’ll do it for The Peerless until next week. Here’s hoping you and yours enjoy a very Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, a joyous Kwanzaa, and many hours of happy hockey thoughts . . .

“He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.

“He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!”

-- Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol,” December 1843