Monday, February 07, 2011

Chris Botta article - New York Times - February 4, 2011

My response:

DP embarassed the Islanders and their fans with his antics in the February 3 game against the Pens. As a die hard Islanders fan, I feel entitled to make the following judgements: Rick DiPietro, at his best, is a good goalie; not a great goalie as he believes, but just adequate. I will speak for the fans when I say that he should stay in the crease. Every time he leaves his position, the Islanders and their fans all cringe. He has a reputation as a good puck handler; unwarranted, I believe. He is athletic and mobile enough to leave the crease and play the puck to his defenseman, but as many times as he makes a good play, he mishandles the puck. He's left the net open while he flails around on the ice trying to recover. He puts the puck into a place where the opponent can pick it right off. He has aggresively raced an opposing forward to the incoming puck, once resulting in the concussion that sidelined him for the season.

This once-rising NHL star has let in more soft goals than he should have. He hit the jackpot and broke the mold when he signed his 15 year deal, but has not played enough or well enough to justify his salary. In my humble opinion.

DL, NYC, Cooke plays a game that is intended to get under the opponents' skin. He has levied dirty hits in the past, for which he has been suspended, fined, and made to answer for by his opponents on the ice. Believe me, I hate to let Cooke off the hook, but in this case DiPietro clearly initiated this particular incident by laying a shoulder on the passing Cooke. With 16 seconds remaining in a shutout loss, DP should not have started this melee. As far as calling out Johnson, that was equally, if not more, stupid. DP was trying to walk the walk that he talks with his swagger. There was no upside to this instigation. A fight in the game is usually to settle a score or to energize the team or crowd. Maybe lay the ground work for the next match. Ricky opened his big mouth and Johnson closed it for him.

WallaWalla - I hate to admit that I would not have minded if DP was deactivated - not hurt, because that's not nice, but I would like to see him gone.

Paul of Bellerose, I'm also a die hard Rangers fan (yes I can, but that's a post for another time). I watched the Staal/Prust incident, and I am pretty sure that Prust took an uncharacteristic dive. He's tougher than that, but I think he knew it was to his advantage to not get in a fight with Jordan Staal. Prust got what he wanted in a power play, and Staal got the gate for the rest of the game. That's better than a KO.

JAE - yes, the Pens certainly have made more than their share of 'questionable' hits this season. I disagree with you in that I do view them as a team that is dirtier than most. I could never understand why Malkin hasn't been called out for so many dirty hits and elbows in the corners. Cooke is Cooke. Rupp takes liberties and Crosby whines (although less than he used to), and Talbot skates on the edge.KMiller, I don't know that we can hang the whole Lighthouse project on DP's failings, and maybe we're off to KC, but a winning product on the ice speaks loudly to the economic concerns of the Islanders' surrounding entities. Personally I don't think the Lighthouse project unreasonable. For the Town of Hempstead to 'cherry pick' the parts they want and not allow the developer to build the entire creation is unreasonable.It has recently been reported that the majority of the members of the NHL Players' Association listed the Islanders organization as the team that they'd least like to join. [see Nabokov]

Yes, kudos to Johnson for laying off after the KO. Don't hold out the medals, however, because that is in the unstated rules of engagement on the ice, and usually honored. The 'new' NHL holds its own official rules regarding altercations, when a player can join in, when he cannot, where the defensemen can go in the offensive zone when a scrum ensues near the goal line, and even how many fights can take place at one time. Gone are the days of the 'bench clearing brawl.' A penalty is assessed to players that take part in a fight when one is already in progress. But the players observe their own unwritten laws that include stopping the attack when the opponent is down.

I've been an Islander fan since before their dynasty. I'm old enough to have seen the evolution of the NHL game to what it is today. It's almost embarassing to wear the Islanders jersey out, but I do anyway. And so I feel that I can fairly say, in my opinion, that DiPietro has to go. His ego and swagger are not matched by his performance. The Isles' big weakness is in nets, and has been for the last several years. Theirs is a very young team, filled with talent and energy, motivation and desire. We need good goaltending.The Penguins take cheap, dirty shots, and more often than the average team. And I watch all the teams.Let's go Islanders! (but not to KC!)

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Say Something Nice About Time Warner!

I want to point out that Time Warner Cable did a good thing when they offered their customers free telephone calls to Haiti in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake of January 2010. I cannot guess how much that cost them; however much or little it is, it's a very nice gesture to a community that could use all the help they can get at this terrible time.

These are very difficult economic times for many people. Businesses are cutting costs, laying off employees, and cutting services, all to eke out better profits. Again, I have no idea how much this cost Time Warner, but to me, and probably to the people this action helped, it was immeasurable.

Congratulations to Time Warner for doing the right thing. Wow - did I just say that?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

I'm Not Impressed That Team USA Men Beat Finland in Semifinals.

Yes, of course I'm glad they won but I'm not impressed. I just don't think they deserve all the accolades they received from the NBC broadcast team of Roenick, Milbury, and Bill Patrick for 'ruthlessly' beating Finland in the Semifinals on Friday, February 26, 2010. They talked about speed and transition. Team Canada is faster than the Finns, and they're not going to cough up the puck as much either.

I don't think the team did all they could. It was a 6-1 final score, but all 6 US goals happened in the first 12 or 13 minutes of the first period. They did nothing after that. Were they just defending their lead? Did they just come off the gas? Finland is no pushover on the ice, and they showed the occasional burst of life against the stingy defense of Team USA, but this was not a very consistently offensive game by the Stars and Stripes. New York Rangers Brandon Dubinsky and Chris Drury were inspired in their penalty kills - I was proud of my Rangers, but aren't they forwards?

If the USA Men's Hockey Team thinks they're going to beat Team Canada playing like that, they have a big surprise coming. They will need to keep the pressure on throughout all 60 minutes, or they will come up very short.

Friday, February 19, 2010

NHL Scheduling

So the NHL contacts me by email once or twice a month in order to participate in their "Fan Face Off" surveys. The one I filled out today asked questions about my XXII Olympic and NHL ice hockey viewing habits. They wanted to know what Olympic teams and players I follow, how many games I watch, and what drives my viewing choices. The choices are easy: there's only one game on at a time. Some start at 12:30AM EST, but I record those to watch later. I catch them all. (well, almost all.)

They then inquired about my NHL viewing habits, and those who know me know I watch a lot of games. It occurred to me that my viewing habits have changed over the past years. It used to be that I could catch the Islander games on Saturdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, while the Ranger games were on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. Of course there were overlaps on some weekends, but mostly, they were evenly spread across the week, so the did not conflict with each other. For some reason, the last few seasons have had both of my teams play on the same nights, and if there's another show that I watch on TV at the same time, I have a problem. I have occasionally had to catch a game later on replay, watch bits and pieces of both games, or find the condensed version (Rangers in 60) when possible.

Another scheduling issue that could be better happens when neither of my teams are playing on a given night: I scan the league schedule for the best game to watch on my NHL Center Ice package. This 'best game' to me, is usually one that showcases a rivalry or two top teams meeting. What I've found this year, especially, is some nights have boring looking games (read: non-divisional or non-conference), like the Panthers against the Canucks, the Coyotes against the Devils, while the very next night will boast Boston v Montreal, Sharks v Ducks, Washington v Pittsburgh, Blackhawks v Detroit, AND 'the Battle of Alberta,' all on the same night. Of course any fan of a team would be happy to watch their team in a game. For the avid hockey fan, though, a more evenly spread selection of games like these would be far more enjoyable than trying to choose from great games one night and fishing for a good game the next.

The last issue I would like to point out is the fact that I've seen numerous instances where one night boasts 13 games, while the next night has only one or two. There have even been days when the league was entirely dark, and I don't mean holidays. This season has dealt with a condensed schedule in order to accommodate the Olympic break, and if that sounds like a reason, I don't get it - it sounds like that would create the opposite effect, making the league fill every day with some game or other.

I understand that making a schedule for 30 teams in 6 divisions within two conferences is no small mathematical feat, especially given the required number of meetings between teams within and outside of divisions. I also would like to see each team visit the other 29 at least once every year. I believe that it's important to the game that every fan who wants to, has the opportunity to see every other team skate on their home rink.

I know I'm thinking out loud here, but bear with me - I am figuring this out. The math shows that this policy of seeing every team in every building every year would reduce the number of intradivisional, most-heated rivalry games that are so important to the fans and to my earlier argument.

A team's regular season consists of 82 games. Each team plays the other four teams in their division six times (reduced recently from eight). That's 24 games. Then, each team plays the remaining 10 teams in their conference 4 times, that's another 40. That's 64 games within the conference, leaving only 18 for the other 15 teams in the league, and I say twice. Playing each team in the other conference twice (once home, once away) is 30 more. To facilitate this ideal would take a regular season of 94 games. That's 'only' 12 more, but the NHL already plays in every month except July and August. The NBA also lasts 82 games, Major League Baseball plays a 162 game season, and the NFL plays 19 games. This is not the place for me to argue that 82 NHL games are far more intense and grueling than any of these aforementioned seasons. I'll just say that even though I could watch this sport for a 12 month season, these players deserve an off-season. Fairness dictates that within the conference, and especially within the divisions, games must be played in even numbers so that each has the same number of home-ice advantages. Suggesting that the number of intradivision or intraconference games be reduced from six to four and from four to two is ridiculous and will hurt the game's growth, perhaps reduce its popularity even further.

This game can ill afford to give up any existing or potential viewers and fans. The NHL has a history of alienating fans, when they should be trying to increase the fan base and grow the sport. NBC lost the opportunity, however, by not widely broadcast the big USA v Canada men's game on Sunday, February 22, 2010, showing the general disdain held by US broadcasters and the American public in general for the game of hockey, and that's just a shame.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Goalie Rules

I'm all for opening up the ice in NHL games, and in ice hockey, as in life, the fewer rules, the better. My target of discussion in this case, is NHL ice hockey Rule 69 - Interference on the Goalkeeper (listed in full and linked below).

This rule was instituted, presumably, to protect the Goaltender from injury due to intentional or accidental contact with an opposing player. It also allows a puck handling goaltender free travel to get back to his position in goal to defend his net. The league rules set a 'trapezoid' in place behind the goal line, not allowing the goalie into the corners to handle the puck - handling the puck behind the goal line and outside of this trapezoid results in a two minute delay of game penalty.

This rule has resulted in what I consider to be 'free ice' for the goaltender. When the goalie leaves the crease to play the puck, he is protected by the rule that allows him to skate around nearly untouched. This is what bothers me: any other player on the ice, the 'skaters,' both forwards and defenders, are legally allowed to check another player when the other player has the puck, or at least within a second after handling said puck. If a player checks another while the puck is not there, he can be called for a two-minute 'interference' penalty. When the skater is carrying the puck, he knows that he might get 'drilled' at any time, and he needs to be aware of the possibility of an incoming check. He plays accordingly. When a goalie comes out of his crease to play the puck, he can do so with impunity, firm in the knowledge that he will not get checked into the boards or otherwise impeded. This gives him the aforementioned 'free ice.' 'Back in the day,' goalies did not handle the puck, other than making a save and clearing the area. Now that puck-handling goalies have become fairly common, the league had to institute this rule to address this situation.

To me, this is like a form of regulation, similar to disrupting the balance between supply and demand. The rule interferes with the normal flow, creating an unfair advantage.

Following is the entire rule #69 regarding Interference of the Goaltender. The rule basically states that the goaltender cannot be impeded from playing the puck in his crease. It also mandates that no contact should be made by an attacking player, except for 'incidental contact.' That is, of course, a judgement call by the official, made more often than not, but not always. My point here is that this provides the goaltender an unfair advantage. If the goaltender was made to be not off-limits outside the crease, he would need to be sure that he would not put himself in a position to be legally checked, impeding his ability to defend his goal. The cost of this action would force him to be more diligent to protect himself. I have witnessed countless examples of a goalie controlling the puck and spinning around, while the forward skips past him in an effort not to bump him and draw a penalty, usually allowing the goaltender a free out.

The crux of my argument is that the trapezoid should be removed and the goalie should be fair game while handling the puck outside of his crease. I'm not anxious to see a goalie get nailed, rather, this action would level the ice, and force the goaltender to seriously consider whether it is worth the risk of leaving the safety of his crease.

Along this line, the goalie must be protected in the blue paint of his crease - in fact, I think the officials should crack down on 'incidental contact' when the goalie is standing his ground in his rightful position. Too many goalies have been paying the price of standing his ground, playing the puck in the paint. This action has been chalked up to 'driving the net.' Many goalies have been run into by an attacking forward under the pretense of driving the net, knowing full well that the defender might help his cause by giving him a last-minute push. I would say that nine times out of ten, the forward could avoid contact if he knew he would be penalized for it. The rule should be that any contact with the goalie in his crease, even when 'pushed in' by the goalie's own teammate will result in a penalty. That would ensure that the attacking forward would give the goalie a wide berth. Maybe that's too much, but some firm action must need to be taken to protect a goalie in his proper position. But that's a topic for another day.

Rule 69 - Interference on the Goalkeeper

Rule 69 - Interference on the Goalkeeper
69.1 Interference on the Goalkeeper - This rule is based on the premise that an attacking player’s position, whether inside or outside the crease, should not, by itself, determine whether a goal should be allowed or disallowed. In other words, goals scored while attacking players are standing in the crease may, in appropriate circumstances be allowed. Goals should be disallowed only if: (1) an attacking player, either by his positioning or by contact, impairs the goalkeeper’s ability to move freely within his crease or defend his goal; or (2) an attacking player initiates intentional or deliberate contact with a goalkeeper, inside or outside of his goal crease. Incidental contact with a goalkeeper will be permitted, and resulting goals allowed, when such contact is initiated outside of the goal crease, provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact. The rule will be enforced exclusively in accordance with the on-ice judgment of the Referee(s), and not by means of video replay or review.
For purposes of this rule, “contact,” whether incidental or otherwise, shall mean any contact that is made between or among a goalkeeper and attacking player(s), whether by means of a stick or any part of the body.
The overriding rationale of this rule is that a goalkeeper should have the ability to move freely within his goal crease without being hindered by the actions of an attacking player. If an attacking player enters the goal crease and, by his actions, impairs the goalkeeper’s ability to defend his goal, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.
If an attacking player has been pushed, shoved, or fouled by a defending player so as to cause him to come into contact with the goalkeeper, such contact will not be deemed contact initiated by the attacking player for purposes of this rule, provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact.
69.2 Penalty - In all cases in which an attacking player initiates intentional or deliberate contact with a goalkeeper, whether or not the goalkeeper is inside or outside the goal crease, and whether or not a goal is scored, the attacking player will receive a penalty (minor or major, as the Referee deems appropriate). In all cases where the infraction being imposed is to the attacking player for hindering the goalkeeper’s ability to move freely in his goal crease, the penalty to be assessed is for goalkeeper interference.
In exercising his judgment, the Referee should give more significant consideration to the degree and nature of the contact with the goalkeeper than to the exact location of the goalkeeper at the time of the contact.
69.3 Contact Inside the Goal Crease - If an attacking player initiates contact with a goalkeeper, incidental or otherwise, while the goalkeeper is in his goal crease, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.
If a goalkeeper, in the act of establishing his position within his goal crease, initiates contact with an attacking player who is in the goal crease, and this results in an impairment of the goalkeeper’s ability to defend his goal, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.
If, after any contact by a goalkeeper who is attempting to establish position in his goal crease, the attacking player does not immediately vacate his current position in the goal crease (i.e. give ground to the goalkeeper), and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed. In all such cases, whether or not a goal is scored, the attacking player will receive a minor penalty for goalkeeper interference.
If an attacking player establishes a significant position within the goal crease, so as to obstruct the goalkeeper’s vision and impair his ability to defend his goal, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.
For this purpose, a player “establishes a significant position within the crease” when, in the Referee’s judgment, his body, or a substantial portion thereof, is within the goal crease for more than an instantaneous period of time.
Refer also to Reference Tables – Table 18 – Interference on the Goalkeeper Situations.
69.4 Contact Outside the Goal Crease - If an attacking player initiates any contact with a goalkeeper, other than incidental contact, while the goalkeeper is outside his goal crease, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.
A goalkeeper is not “fair game” just because he is outside the goal crease. The appropriate penalty should be assessed in every case where an attacking player makes unnecessary contact with the goalkeeper. However, incidental contact will be permitted when the goalkeeper is in the act of playing the puck outside his goal crease provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such unnecessary contact.
When a goalkeeper has played the puck outside of his crease and is then prevented from returning to his crease area due to the deliberate actions of an attacking player, such player may be penalized for goalkeeper interference. Similarly, the goalkeeper may be penalized, if by his actions outside of his crease he deliberately interferes with an attacking player who is attempting to play the puck or an opponent.
Refer also to Reference Tables – Table 18 – Interference on the Goalkeeper Situations.
69.5 Face-off Location – Whenever the Referee stops play to disallow a goal as a result of contact with the goalkeeper (incidental or otherwise), the resulting face-off shall take place at the nearest neutral zone face-off spot outside the attacking zone of the offending team.
69.6 Rebounds and Loose Pucks - In a rebound situation, or where a goalkeeper and attacking player(s) are simultaneously attempting to play a loose puck, whether inside or outside the crease, incidental contact with the goalkeeper will be permitted, and any goal that is scored as a result thereof will be allowed.
In the event that a goalkeeper has been pushed into the net together with the puck by an attacking player after making a stop, the goal will be disallowed. If applicable, appropriate penalties will be assessed.
In the event that the puck is under a player in or around the crease area (deliberately or otherwise), a goal cannot be scored by pushing this player together with the puck into the goal. If applicable, the appropriate penalties will be assessed, including a penalty shot if deemed to be covered in the crease deliberately (see Rule 63 – Delaying the Game).
69.7 Fines and Suspensions - An attacking player who, in the judgment of the Referee, initiates contact with the goalkeeper, whether inside or outside the crease, in a fashion that would otherwise warrant a penalty, will be assessed an appropriate penalty (minor or major and/or game misconduct) and will be subject to additional sanctions as appropriate pursuant to Rule 29 – Supplementary Discipline.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


It's almost 2010, and you'd think we, the human race, would have become better at controlling the spread of germs by now. But as I witness my fellow man, I can say, unevquivocally, that we could, and should, be doing this much better.
Forget about the people walking around sneezing, coughing, and 'clearing their throat,' without covering their mouths, that's not my target today - too obvious. These people should know better.
There is a dangerous, potentially germ-transmitting activity that I observe frequently, and I beleive that the people performing this unsanitary act do not know better. It is something that you have very likely seen, and maybe you've even noticed. But maybe not. If you've noticed it, you may have let it slide, paid it no heed, let it go, chalked it up to 'oh, well.'
In nearly every checkout counter in the USA, merchandise is placed into plastic bags made of hi-density polyethylene, the ones that 'crinkle.' The bags are very hard to open, as fingers seem to slip right off, without opening. Until, that is, the clerk licks his or her fingers and the bag opens easily and she can pack out your purchases. What's on her fingers? Where have they been? Handling money? Who did that money come from before it got to the cashier? Were they healthy? Does she have a cold? A virus? The flu? Worse? You go home and carry that bag. You get home and handle the bag some more. You may or may not touch the part of the bag that was, let's say, contaminated.
I have personally observed this behavior at major retailers, including Sears, Ikea, and Target. I've seen it at smaller merchants, such as the neighborhood hardware store, the bagel store, and the card store. I once asked the card store clerk for another bag, one that she didn't lick. She looked surprised, and I saw that she didn't even realize that she had done that. She apologized, and gave me a new bag, but her fingers had already been licked, right?
Why do we need to be exposed to this disgusting practice? I think it's mostly due to ignorance; it's probably not intentional or mean-spirited, I think it's simply a lack of awareness. This needs to be addressed. This needs to be controlled by the Board of Health, OSHA, even litigated by our lawmakers. While they're at it, they need to include cashiers licking their fingers to help them count out currency.
I have seen this situation properly remedied at several establsishments - grocery stores, farmstands, and bodegas, for example. They will keep a cut pickle, lemon, or a sponge in arm's reach, and touch that instead of licking their fingers. That is, however, the exception, as far as I've seen.
It was fairly awkward for me to ask that card store clerk for a different bag. The onus should be placed on the merchant to provide the cashier with a mechanism to wet his or her fingers. Protect the public if you want to stay in business.
Prevent the pandemic.

Monday, March 23, 2009

It's Time to End Prohibition.

Copy of my letter to Mark Weprin, New York State Assemblyman, 24th Assembly District:

Dear Mr. Weprin, offers a letter suggesting that wine should be allowed to be sold in supermarkets in New York State. I'm sure you've seen the letter before, but it got me thinking.

I have been telling my friends and family (and, frankly, anyone who'll listen) for years, that I resent that the government feels that it has to protect me from myself. So, along the same line of thought that would allow wine to be sold in supermarkets, I believe that New York State should allow casino gambling in the New York Metropolitan area. It's practically criminal that we allow all those busloads full of money to travel to Atlantic City and Connecticut every day. All those tax dollars and jobs should stay right here in New York, where they belong. I would venture to guess that a significant proportion of Atlantic Cty and Connecticut casino visitors are New Yorkers. Think about all that money!!

And on another related topic, while I'm at it, although I don't do drugs, and I hardly drink alcohol, I firmly beleive that the war on drugs is far too costly to our country. Now, I'm not a radical, but I think that most 'illicit' drugs should be made legal and sold through proper channels.

Not only would we save the billions and billions of dollars spent nationwide trying to enforce drug laws, but look at all the tax dollars that could be realized. Another big advantage to a plan like this would be to remove the illegal dollars from the black market and the criminals associated with it, placing all that money in the tax rolls. End of deficit.

Lastly, quality would be ensured, virtually eliminating accidental overdose or poisoning due to impurities added by unscrupulous drug dealers trying to stretch their product further. When was the last time you heard of blindness caused by moonshine?

Granted, alcoholism is a problem in our society, but I think that the American Government should be protecting my freedoms, not protecting me from myself. In my eyes, the advantages in ending 'drug prohibition' far outweigh any disadvantages that can be shown. We can provide help to any people who cannot control thir drug habits for a tiny fraction of what we spend on our current drug war. The single biggest objection to this plan will come from the vast anti-drug machinery that we've set up over the last several decades. To disband the entire DEA, much of the Departments of Corrections, numerous other agencies, along with large percentages of local police departments, just for starters, will surely cause great pain for those whose livelihoods depend on the war against drugs.


Finally, here's the letter suggested by that made me start thinking about this stuff:

I support the idea of allowing New York grocers to sell wine. New Yorkers deserve this convenience that many other Americans in 35 other states already enjoy. With our state budget deficit looming large, it is irresponsible to turn our backs on the more than $150 million in potential revenue for the state’s general fund that the New York State Division of Budget projects as a result of this much needed policy change. In addition, this proposal will support the New York grape growing and wine industries. These combined industries generate over a billion dollars in revenue and employ tens of thousands of workers. Don’t let the liquor distribution monopoly bottle up this good idea just to protect their profits. Selling wine in food stores makes sense for all New Yorkers. Please support this proposal that will allow food stores in New York to provide this basic convenience.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

About Sean Avery

To Arthur Staple at Newsday:
It might be just you, Tom Renney, and me, who think that Sean Avery should come back to the Rangers. I was very sorry to see him leave New York for Dallas, but I know he went for the money. Allow me to defend.
New York and Avery can be very good for each other, and especially good for the NHL in general. His ego can flourish in the bright lights of MSG, and our city, like no other, can get behind a tough-guy antagonist. I believe him when he says that he tried to rile up the Flames with his off-color comments. I do not condone his language, nor do I approve of the underlying attitude that would allow for such comments, but I understand his supposed motivation.
He showed that he can control himself during last year's playoffs by keeping his elbows down and his nose relatively clean. He made solid hits, took very few penalties, and played very well. Of course, he caused the writing of the 'Avery Rule' during the Devils' series, but at the time, getting in Brodeur's face as he did wasn't against the rules. I watched it live, before any spin, and it made me jump up out of my chair and cheer. I thought it was quite inventive.
Hockey in the USA, as you well know, has a very poor following in relation to the other major sports. You get one football, and you can have a few dozen guys play a game. Same with soccer. Basketball. Even baseball, to a degree (with the addition of a bat and a few mitts.) In order to play hockey, each player needs lots of equipment, putting the game out of reach of many would-be players. Nothing creates fans like people who play the game watching the pros play the game that they love (or a bandwagon to jump on.) We need to rely on other methods to increase the fan base of ice hockey. One method would be to have a headliner in a major city like New York. (Of course, Canada doesn't need to promote the sport - it's a gimme up there!) A big-mouth media hound like Avery would bring fans to the game (there's no such thing as bad publicity), and I think the sport itself has a good chance of keeping them there once they're in.
My biggest concern for the Rangers taking him on would be his health. I'm concerned about his wrist, his spleen, and whatever else we don't know about yet. I thought Avery initially went to Dallas for the big payday because he knew his health was deteriorating, and he looked short-term, rather than long.
His brooding, bad-boy attitude did not fly in Dallas, but with the right structuring and smoothing over, Renney and crew might allow a good fit in his former team, making a winning (or at least entertaining) combination on Broadway.
Thanks for listening,
Wayne Cohen,

Monday, February 02, 2009

The reason for fighting in The National Hockey League

Copy of my Letter to the Editor of The Hockey News

In response to "The Big Question"
The Hockey News
January 26, 2009
Vol 62, No. 15

Like Pierre McGuire said, it was bound to happen eventually, that "...somebody would die during a fight."
I, too, would like to begin with my condolences and sympathy to the family of Don Sanderson.

I am a long-time hockey fan, and I have no problem with on-ice fighting in a contextual setting; that is, if the fight is for more that the fight's sake. A fight is a welcome interlude. A rare spectacle of modern gladiators, observing a code of honor, while answering a call of duty. That code of honor allows a player to decline to fight, if necessary, to stop when a serious injury has occurred, and to fight fair. (Except in cases of biting, stomping with a skate on a prone player's leg, or swinging for the fences with a player's head, of course.) Not too many things bring fans to their feet so quickly as the pairing off of two willing heavyweights.

Hockey mom Jacqueline Kovacs brushed by my personal remedy, when she alluded to the tight officiating during the WJC. My feeling is that most on-ice fights are initiated by a player who feels that an injustice has been done, or is about to be done. An enforcer will approach a player that has thrown a cheap hit, or has made some kind of dirty play, that he feels was missed, or was otherwise not called by the officials, and challenge a fight. (Usually from the front, but how is Steve Moore, by the way? - Okay, another topic...) By starting the fight, he is telling the other team that no one is going to take advantage of his teammates - this is the 'self-policing' that players talk about. An honorable system, but one of last resort. The calls should be made, in all fairness to the game.

One solution is to have a camera on every player on the ice, and enough off-ice officials to monitor every one of them for personal fouls. Leave the big-picture calls to the on-ice officials. There are already plenty of isolation cameras in use, just place a few more, and monitor them. EVERY call should be made.

There is plenty of action in our game without gratuitous fighting. The speed, finesse, ability, and talent of the players in professional ice hockey are like that of no other sport in the world. The game can stand on its own without any on-ice extra-curricular activities brought about by players trying to correct injustice. Level the playing field and remove the perceived injustices, and the debate over fighting will erode rapidly. These actions will force even the "agitators" to eliminate the "cheap hits" from their games, forcing them to find a way to perform the same function, but legally. This strategy will probably not eliminate fighting, but will likely reduce the incidence greatly.

-Wayne Cohen

PS - While we're at it, why not make it a high sticking call when everyone's sticks are up in everyone else's faces during those scrums after the whistle behind the net? Don't pretend that it's accidental when a player rakes his stick across another's face; a player always knows where that stick is. It may as well be part of his arm. It's just more convenient not to drop it when there's no penalty for it, and while everyone else has his up too. IMO, that's a place where dirty tactics go unnoticed and unpenalized.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Cheap shots

Following is my response to Joe Michelletti's comment during the Rangers' game of January 10, 2008:
Joe - While you're right that the sucker punch by Downie on Blake was the fault of the linesmen, I always thought there should be a rule, among men of honor, that once the fight is 'called,' the fighters must go to their "neutral corners," just like in boxing's "clean break."
Don't laugh - pros are, indeed, men of honor, and will, I believe, abide by this rule if set down in black and white.
On this subject, I think players must be trained to drop their sticks in every scrum. Sticks inevitable get up around faces, and this should be make illegal. I'm not talking about 'dropping the gloves' in preparation of a fight, just in these chippy confrontations in the corners, along the boards, or in front of the net.

So ends my comments to MSG, but to continue my thoughts...
This is not the time or place for me to argue whether fights belong in hockey or not. For now, let's assume they are a part of the game, and will, for at least the near future, continue as such.

So, on the subject of fights, dropping the gloves before a fight should not lead to a penalty if the opponent does not. To clarify, for those who don't know, when two skaters skate towards one another with the intention of fighting, they are expected to remove their gloves before fighting, or else there is an automatic penalty to the player for fighting with gloves on.
In my opinion, it is too easy to be goaded into a situation where one player tricks the other into, or at least takes advantage of the opportunity, to make the other guy drop the gloves, and then skate away. It doesn't happen often, but the threat is there enough for players to be concerned about it.
And lastly, I think that Chris Simon does not belong in the NHL. If he was a felon, he'd have taken his third strike already. In my opinion, he cannot control his anger. It's sheer luck that he hasn't hurt someone severely yet. It's only a matter of time before he does. Maybe he's someone you'd like to have on your team, I don't know; his teammates seem to love him, and his coaches all get behind him, but really, I believe he's a catastrophe waiting to happen.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Obviously, NHL players, obviously.

Please, please, please, stop saying "obviously" so frequetly during your interviews.

Jason Blake is, to my ear, the worst offender, tallying 3 instances of "obviously" in a recent 75 second interview with Deb Kaufman at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. But the overuse and abuse of the word is an assault on my ears and my intelligence.

In the modern NHL broadcast, player interviews are commonplace. In the spirit of "Player Access," before, during, and after games, players are called upon to offer their views on what they expect to see, or have seen. Sometimes a player might recall a play that has been made, or he might make suggestions as to what might soon occur. In either case, the experienced hockey fan does not really need to hear the word "obviously," as in, "Obviously, we need to get the puck to the net." And to a less-than experienced hockey fan, it might not be "obvious."

I guess the player does not want to hear someone tell him, "No kidding," but please, enough with the "obviously," already.

Hummer Metro Ice Challenge

The Hummer Metro Ice Challenge, sponsored by the New York Metro Hummer dealers, rewards the winner of the regular season NHL games between the New York Rangers, New York Islanders and the New Jersey Devils with a $50,000 donation to the charity of their choice.

Pardon my cynicism, but $50,000 as a donation? While it is indeed noble to donate money to worthy charities, I can't help but think that the donation amount is dwarfed by the cost of airtime that the Hummer dealers spend to advertise their program.

Want to impress me? Advertise it only once per game, and increase the amount of the donation.

Monday, March 12, 2007

On the road

It's amazing there's not more road rage than is reported.

My daughter asked me what bothers me the most about how people drive. If you think about it, it usually boils down to people being inconsiderate to each other. NONconsiderate might be a better word People are sometimes inconsiderate; that is, they go about their way, forcibly, in spite of the needs and wants of others. More often, it seems, people go about their business completely oblivious to the needs of, in fact, the very existence of, other people around them. If not for that, if drivers were intentionally courteous to each other, the roads would be a lot better, safer, and more easily navigated.

My friend Mark pointed out the difference between 'skunked' and 'snaked' once. 'Snaked' is an aggressive maneuver that gets you in front of the other guy without making him avoid you by braking or steering away. Sure, the guy might perceive that you 'cut him off' or something like that, but in reality, you got in and never really got in his way. 'Skunking' him, however, is a different animal. That's pretty much making the other fellow avoid you by using his brake or steering out of your way.

I admit that I am an aggressive driver. I am fast but I am careful. I slow down when the roads are wet. I change lanes and go fast, but I never get in your way. I will wait for my turn at the intersection. I clean ALL of the snow and ice off of my vehicle before I drive away. I always signal well in advance of my turn, giving you plenty of warning - should you choose to be observant enough to see it. I make my right turn into the right lane, and my left turn into the left lane, as I'm supposed to, leaving you the other lane to use. I recognize drivers attempting to parallel park, and leave them room to do so. The only way I've discovered to leave room enough for me to parallel park is to move abruptly, pointing my nose toward the middle of the street, stopping quickly with my signal on, signaling the driver behind me by making him say, 'whoa! What's this guy doing?" Otherwise, he's on my tail, waiting for me to move forward.

I sometimes wave a pedestrian across a busy street, placing my vehicle in the way of other cars that do not want to wait to pass through. I always wear my seat belt, and I insist that every one of my passengers do the same.

I park my car well between the marked lines in the parking lot. Do you? So many times I see cars parked haphazardly in spots in a lot, that I wonder if that's as well as the drivers can park, or if they simply don't care about anyone else. I mean, backing up and straightening out one more time couldn't take that much time or effort, could it? Or do they truly not notice?

Again, I admit that I'm aggressive behind the wheel, but if we're entering the same narrow passage from opposite directions, I'll pull over to let you by if you're nearer the bottleneck. But I expect you to do the same. More often than not, you just barrel through, expecting me to get out of your way.

You don't really need to sit in the left lane going the speed limit unless you're the Highway Patrol. It goes like this: right lane, exit and entry and slow-moving vehicles. The middle lane is meant for highway speeds. The left lane is properly used for passing.

My wife tells me I complain too much behind the wheel; that I shouldn't take these insults personally. I can't help it - it feels personal. I point out all these offenses to her, all day long, and she tells me to laugh it off. I probably should. I'll live longer.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Migrane Machine?

So Eyewitness News tonight (February 10, 2005), on WABC New York, showed an electromagnetic device aimed at relieving migraine headaches. Some of the interviewees indicated that they thought it was ridiculous. I, however, fully understand the motivations of the patients who would give it a try. I also understand the diabetic who will walk around with an insulin pump inserted into their skin.

The reason is that people with conditions that cause pain will do whatever they can to alleviate any part of the pain. In the case of migraines, pain is occasional but acute, in the case of diabetes, pain comes from sticking one's self with a needle several times each day. For an insulin-dependent diabetic, the pump allows the user to avoid, perhaps, 2 or 3 out of 10 needle-sticks per day. As I said earlier, this 'migraine buzzer' might look ridiculous, and it is a little big to be comfortably stowed into any pocketbook or briefcase, but I get it.

I have my own chronic pain issues, and I know that I would do anything to avoid even a portion of it. I've tried many things: a few surgeries, physical therapy, massage therapy, even acupuncture. So I live on pain medicine. I'm very hesitant to have more surgery, because I guess, as the saying goes, the devil I know is better than the devil I don't know. In the most extreme, I'm afraid of complications from surgery, which may include infection, or worse, paralysis. At the very least, I'm afraid of the horrible, excruciating recovery.

My point, though, is that it's not ridiculous. It's grasping at straws, perhaps, but desperate people are willing to go to extreme measures for the slightest relief.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

NHL Lockout 2004 Season

I'm not a big fan of unions. Briefly, unions had their time. Time was they did a world of good for a great many people. Now, though, I think they get in their own way more often than not. If you don't like your job, quit. If you need a raise, make your case. If you're worth your salt, you'll get it. Or get another job. There's always work for those who want it. There's always someone willing to take your place. Thanks for listening.

Now, on to the lockout.

Think about it. What if there was no union? Let's call it eXtreme Capitalism. Who is being protected? The rookie, just coming in to the draft? If he's that good, he'll command a decent salary. If he's not, someone else will take his place. If some other team wants him, they'll make an offer. There's plenty of guys out here who would die for a chance in the majors. I'd be happy playing the game for a fraction of the price. The superstars, the experienced journeymen, they'll get their price. I think it'll make the game hungrier. Won't always be the priciest team winning, you know. (Obviously, Yanks, NY Rangers, Lightning, Sox!)

By the way, who said that buying a team is a license to make money? It's supposed to be an investment (if not a labor of love). If you're the owner of a small market team, and you're not filling the arena, either lower your budget, move to a bigger market, or quit crying and suck it up. Nobody forced it on you. So, how to fix it? How's this: How about each owner sits down, and clearly defines a budget from which he can pay his players. How much he can pay, in total. He breaks up that budget between his roster, and makes the players offers. Hopefully, nobody gets hurt too badly. An agreement may be made that if there is revenue in excess of the amount planned for, by making playoffs, or extending the season, or removing an olive from every salad, whatever, that money will be distributed according to some previously agreed upon schedule.

Salary cap (sorry, cost certainty)? Revenue sharing? Whatever. Larger market teams, smaller market teams, there are plenty of offsets in the mix. You think that rent and overhead for MSG is similar to that of the Nationwide or Glendale Arenas? What about ticket prices? Same? Similar? Close? Create some excitement. Watch the fans come out of the woodwork in the 'smaller markets.'

I'm sorry, Mess, Mario, Martin, Jaromir, Peter, Alexi, Dominic. . .Perhaps I'm being naive, but isn't that the way it's done in the real world? Do the job, or tell it walking? There's thousands of guys out here, just waiting for our chance! There's only so much money in the pot. If you can generate more somehow, probably by increasing the fan base, then we can get paid like the other major sports stars. Until then, we all have to work with what there is in the tills. That's all there is, there ain't no more.

Of course, I do not side with the owners. I don't know what they want for nothing, the players are the draws. It seems, though, that if the NHL is to be saved, the only way to do it is within a budget. You can't get blood from a stone. The smallest but most passionate fan base in all of major sports are waiting for you guys, all, to FIX IT!

(Will play for food, and an Escalade if I can swing it)

Friday, October 22, 2004

Christopher Reeve

Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation

Back in 1995, I was very sorry for Christopher Reeve, having heard about his equestrian accident. Scary stuff. He fell off of his horse after making a jump, and snapped his neck. He never walked again. Spinal cord damage. Paralyzed. Respirator. Wheelchair.

I felt a connection with him, however, two months later, when, in July, I broke my own neck in a swimming pool mishap. I was much luckier than he. I am able to (type this,) walk, talk, think, and do almost everything I could do before.

Although I live in pain every day, I think that he was much braver and more optimistic than I ever was, or could be. I'm not crying 'foul,' or wallowing in my misery, but it's hard to be me. But I always look at the bright side. I'm not Christopher. Poor SOB. He never let on, though.
What's great is that he was so selfless. He was driven to walk again. He had the best attitude. His legacy, not the Superman role, but the important one, is that his name will live on, long after his recent, untimely, sad death, in October of 2004, in the form of his Foundation. The Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, , is one of my favorite charities. I have made contributions, with my family, for the last several years, and I plan to continue to do so, to honor his name, his work, and especially his selfless attitude.
A tip of my hat, too, to his wife, Dana, and the rest of his family, for standing by him and supporting him in so many ways.

It is truly astounding, that in our modern society, where sports figures, movie and television stars, and popular musicians are idolized, a true hero emerges from a freak accident. Although I admired his acting and directoral talents, they pale in comparison to the work he was obviously meant to perform.

He has become immortal. I wish continued success to his Foundation, his family, the causes he championed, and the people he loved. May his Foundation find ways to improve the lives of the many people he wanted to help. May his family find peace and fulfillment.

May I make a fraction of the mark of goodness he left on this world.

Monday, October 18, 2004

One Nation Under God?

Okay, we've all seen it.

The e-mail says that 86% of America's population believe in God, and if you're a good person (read "true American"), you should have no problem with the "One Nation, Under God, Indivisible, etc." part of the Pledge of Allegience. Well, whether I believe in God or not is nobody's business but my own and my family's.

Our country was primarily founded on the principle of freedom of religion (or not). The Pilgrims escaped to the new world to flee religious prosecution. What is God doing in our Pledge? And who are you to say that I'm not a good American if I want to pursue my right to practice, or to not practice, any religion of my own choosing.

I am a good American. I only buy American automobiles, and "Made in the USA" goes a long way in my decisions of any and all goods and services that I buy. (Another whole blog for that one.) I know that several American name cars are mostly made overseas, and I know that several 'imports' are made right here in the good old USA by American workers, and I decide accordingly. I pay my taxes, I vote, I support the US Olympic team. I fly the flag, and I know (and observe) the rules for it. I contribute to Veterans' charities. I am well read, and I know my current events and political issues.

I have no problem with the President saying "God bless America" at every opportunity, just don't force me to incorporate it into my vocabulary. It's my right to do as I choose.
In fact, it's my right to do as I choose in many more ways than this, but that's a topic for another day.

Francis Bellamy, a Baptist Minister, wrote the original Pledge of Allegiance in 1891, and did not bow to pressure to include a line tipping his hat to God. He felt that the separation of Church and State was more important than his own personal inclination. The Knights of Columbus persisted in a 3-year campaign until the "under God" line was added in 1954, under President Eisenhower.

I say the Pledge as it was taught to me, including the "under God" line. That's the way it is. I'm not an extremist who has to change the world, I only resent the fight surrounding it. If our legislature agrees that the separation of Church and State should be preserved, and rewords The Pledge, then don't start a war over it. The Crusades are over. Live with it.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Made in the USA

I like to support my fellow American worker. It's my responsibility, and I try to instill that as a value in the people I love.

I take note of the place of manufacture when I buy my vehicles. It would be great if someone would set up a web site that would contain a database of products, of all kinds, and show where they are manufactured, and who makes the profit on the sale too. I would like to see indications, too, on advertisements, and articles.

I think that I'm probably not alone in this desire. I've heard of movements in certain industries, beef, for example, if memory serves, that tug at the patriotic heartstrings of the American consumer to buy product made in the good old USA. I know that I would visit a site like that frequently. It would be important for me to know as much as possible about the source of raw materials, parts, labor, final assembly, packaging, shipping, in order to help me make my buying decision.

Obviously, a Toyota or BMW, for example, assembled domestically, supports the American worker, but the profits for that car leave the country and enrich a foreign company. I'm not saying that we should shut our borders to imports; that's not my point. In this current global economy, there are some good reasons that we should support imports with our dollars. I would like to be as educated in this area as possible, so that I can make an informed choice.

I've used automobiles as a good example, but if you stop to consider it, an automobile purchase usually happens less than one every two years or more, for most people. Although it is a large expenditure, I would like to concentrate on more day-to-day items. Toasters. Clothing. Gasoline comes to mind. Now, I don't expect that any large portion of the world's oil reserves come from the USA, but I would like to know that I am supporting a company that makes the effort. Or at least does not support countries suspected of questionable activities.

I am a big gadget fan, and I own many pieces of electronic equipment: MP3 and CD players, personal, portable TVs, more than two computers, and so on. My digital camera, which I love, is a Sony. (Shame on me? I don't know, I do what I can.) When I bought my Cybershot camera, it was on the open-box rack at Sears. It had all the features I wanted, and I couldn't pass up the offer. It was too good. I've been very happy with it for almost four years now. But when I bought it, I thought about an American-made product. Let's at least keep it in mind. Think about it. Be aware of your purchasing dollars, and where they end up. Some agency ran an ad campaign targeting the illicit drug user, on TV, radio, and in print. They said that every time someone bought illegal drugs off the street, they were supporting terrorism. Similar thought, I guess. Think about where your purchase dollars end up. But illegal drugs, and the black market that supports them, is a story for another day.

I do not have the ability or resources to arrange such a website, but I can certainly envision one. It would look like this: The user would drill-down to the product from a list, pull-down menu, or search, and be able to see a graphical representation of the national origin of that product, in a list of equivalent items for comparison. I see a simplified pie-chart graphic, with various colors, representing the USA (perhaps green), our closest allies, such as Canada, Great Britain, etc. (in blue, maybe, or yellow), another color for less favorably associated countries, all the way through black, or red, for enemy countries, or ones that are under economic embargo. Each product would be available for further detail of origin, as mentioned earlier, like raw materials, parts, labor, assembly, prep, distribution network, etc. Also, various factors should be footnoted for special circumstances (such as one country's exclusive, or virtually exclusive, access to a production material (like Hungarian paprika)).

Monday, May 06, 2002

Imperial Surgical Supply in Great Neck, NY Sucks!

Gee, y'know, I'm a fairly patient guy when I see that merchants are busy, but this guy kept me waiting in his storefront surgical supply store for almost 15 minutes. I'm standing there with my 9 year old daughter, looking pretty innocuous and beat up, carrying my cane and wearing my neck brace, and this guy is too busy on the phone to even ask me to please be patient.

After five minutes, he put down his phone to blow his nose, so I took the opportunity to ask if I could open a package to check the size of the new neck brace I wanted to buy. I also told him that I needed new pads for my TENS unit. He said that 'Steven' would be right with me, so I waited some more. No Steven for a while, now going on 15 minutes, I got up, took my daughter by the hand and started to leave. At this point, this man got up from his desk to rush over to me because he saw that I intended to leave. When I told him that, he told me, "Yeah, maybe you should!"

Boy, poor him, huh? I guess I really offended him. I'm guessing that my purchase would have been about $100, but he obviously didn't need it. I grabbed one of his business cards and told him that I would be sure to tell all my friends how I was treated at his store, and not to frequent this establishment; so if you know of anyone who needs surgical supplies, please do me a favor and shop elsewhere.

Thanks - Wayne