Hockey has been very good to me for 42 years as a “pro”. It brought me a lot of pleasure and satisfaction and a good life. But I also developed several pet peeves and I want to share them with you. Maybe, you feel the same way…
My first two pet peeves have to do with goalies. The one that irks me the most happens is when I see a goalie shrug his shoulders following a goal showing everybody that a teammate, not him, was responsible for the miscue. He wants to show the world that he didn’t see the puck or that a deflection occurred. I think that it’s a copout and a failure to take responsibility. It shows a lack of team unity.
My second pet peeve involving goalies happens when they handle the puck behind the net and shoot it with no purpose right by an oncoming teammate, usually a defenseman. Those plays are very seldom successful and often result in a turnover and put the defenseman in a vulnerable position. The ability to handle the puck for a goalie is an excellent skill which helps teams breakout of their zone. Very few have that vision and instinct. Most of the time, the easiest, simplest play is the best one. Let the defenseman handle the puck when he is in the clear.
Another pet peeve of mine has to do with defensemen leaving their feet in the defensive zone. Yes, there are times when a defenseman will leave his feet to block a shot. As a goalie, I was very thankful to many defencemen who did that in front of me over the years. Former teammate, Bob Plager with the St-Louis Blues, was the master at blocking shots. He was even diving in front of pucks in an alumni game we played a few years back. I see more and more defensemen today leaving their feet on a 2 on 1 attack or outnumbered situation. Smart, skilled offensive players simply let the player slide away and often get a good scoring chance. Whatever happened to leaving a lane for the goalie to take the shot and taking the pass away with good body and stick position?
Finally, my last pet peeve of the day: Teams being rewarded with a point in the standings for losing. It’s time that the NHL reconsiders allowing a point to the losing team in overtime and in sh00t-outs. It’s the only league among the four major pro sports in North America that allows points for a loss. There has to be a better way to promote and reward winning. The Montreal Canadiens made the playoffs in 2008-09 while losing their last 4 games but earning one point in an OT loss to Boston. That one point tied them with the Florida Panthers and earned them a playoff spot winning the tie breaker. It’s ridiculous and needs to be changed. Some suggestions have been made, some good, some not so good. I have my own ideas but I will save them for a full blog at a later date. I would also like to hear what you have to say about it…
HAVE A GOOD HOCKEY DAY!
The first week in the NHL is now in the books. If the games we saw are any indication we should be in for a treat this season.
EDMONTON OILERS: What is most impressive and exciting for me is the play of young rookies. The Edmonton Oilers, the doormat of the league last year are showing off the product of their futility with great performances from Taylor Hall, first overall in the 2010 entry draft and Jordan Eberle who was selected 22nd overall in 2008. Swedish player Magnus Paajarvi also showed NHL skills and speed.
NEW YORK RANGERS: What about the performance of Derek Stepan who scored “hat trick” in his first NHL game. He showed exceptional hockey sense, the ability to win faceoffs and good hands. The Rangers, for the first time in years, can show off some young prospects and can legitimately plan for the future. Wisconsin graduates Stepan and Ryan McDonagh are definitely NHL players. Watch for Artem Anisimov, Matt Gilroy, Michael Sauer to contribute this season.
PHILADELPHIA FLYERS: The Flyers don’t have many rookies but goalie Sergei Bobrovsky showed very good quickness and ability to read and react in beating the Pittsburgh Penguins in his NHL debut.
The Detroit Redwings are off to a great start going 2-0 including a win in Chicago on Banner raising night for the Hawks. A game that featured a fight by Lady Byng trophy winner Pavel Datsyuk.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS: How about the Leafs…They also won their first two games, something they weren’t able to do until November 6th last season. they have added speed and depth to their roster and their top four defencemen are as good as many teams in the league. Look for Tampa Bay, Atalanta and Edmonton, also 2-0, to climb in the standings this season. That’s what makes it all so exciting!
The final event is not so pleasant. Atlanta goalie Ondrej Pavelec collapsed after just over two minutes during their opening game. He doesn’t remember playing those minutes and suffered a slight concussion in the fall. He’s going through a battery of tests but no medical report has been issued as of now. No previous medical issues were reported. Hope the best for him. I have a special bond with Ondrej because he has my picture on his mask… HAVE A GOOD SEASON! Phil Myre
THE 5 COMMANDEMENTS OF GOALTENDING by Phil Myre
1. EYE ON THE PUCK: Just like catching a ball, you must focus on the puck from start to finish: from the time the stick makes contact to when it finally hits you.
2. BODY ON THE PUCK: That simply means that you need to be in good position with the puck lined up in the middle of your body and knowing where your net is.
3. LET THE PUCK HIT YOU: Simplify your game and have patience. The puck will come to you; you don’t have to chase it. Overactive goalies often get out of position and have to rely on reflexes too much.
4. CONTROL THE REBOUND: If you have to give a rebound, try to control where it goes. It needs to be in the least dangerous area where the opponents are least likely to get the puck and make an easy play.
5. RECOVERY: This is very important. You must be ready for the next shot quickly and effectively.
On a HOT and HUMID day in Montreal, I’m listening to a sports talk show while I’m driving. Is this July or January, I ask myself? While the animator of the popular talk show is trying desperately to direct the conversations to the Alouettes, the local football team, or to other current events, THE CANADIENS FANS ARE as HOT as the weather. Some of them are downright ANGRY! Only in Canada and especially in Quebec can you experience such passion for a sport during the off-season. It is, after all the middle of the summer and the phone lines are lit up like a Christmas tree as the hockey fans want to be heard.
The Ilya Kovalchuk signing by the New Jersey Devils which was refuted by the NHL, is a hot topic. How much money should the Canadiens give Corey Price as a restricted free agent. Panic is setting in because he hasn’t signed yet. But the item “du jour” is the trade that sent Jarislav Halak from Montreal to St-Louis only days following his heroic effort which brought the Canadiens to the conference final. The emotions are still fresh on their mind as if they had been kept in the cold winter snow. It seems and feels like the trade happened just yesterday. The passion, the anger, even vindictiveness is felt through the air wave. A long time Habs fan declares that she will now switch her allegiance to the Blues, another vows never to cheer for his beloved Canadiens again.
Of course, Halak’s performance in the playoffs was extraordinary. He almost single-handedly brought the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup Final. He won the hearts of the Montreal hockey fans who are clinging on to their hero as if he was a rare commodity for a city who has had so many heroes to cheer about over the years.
Pierre Gauthier and his staff were faced with a sensitive situation. Two good young goalies who both want to be #1 and both wanting new contracts. Allowing 7-8 million dollars on goalies was out of the question. Unfortunately, the “CAP” dictates more decisions than skills and performance. I’ve worked as a Pro Scout for the last 17 years and I have been involved in similar situations more times than I would have liked. Regardless of the reasoning behind the trade, the HEAT will be on the Canadiens management and on Price until the fans are satisfied that their team can survive and prosper without their recent hero. The Canadiens fans have already chosen sides and it will be a very HOT DEBATE, as the weather turns cold in Montreal. The long-term benefits outweigh the short-term, in my opinion, but for the Hockey crazed fans in Quebec, the long-term is as long as their short northern summers. Will the Canadiens repeat or improve on their FINAL FOUR finish last season? It’s highly unlikely, even if Halak was still wearing the Bleu, Blanc, Rouge. Phil Myre
Wade Redden was put on waivers by the New York Rangers and sent to Hartford in the American Hockey League. After signing a Free Agent contract in the summer of 2008 with the Rangers, Redden has been but a shadow of himself and chastised by management and fans in New York. He will report to the Hartford Whalers of the , of course, to collect on 6.5 million dollars this season. There is still another 16.5 Million owed to him for following three seasons.
WHAT HAPPENED WADE? Is this really the end? Is this what money did to you? Is it the pressure of signing this HUMONGOUS CONTRACT with the Rangers? Is it something else? Only you can answer those questions. YOU HAD IT ALL!!! Good looking, talented, ALL CANADIAN young man who won the hearts of many hockey fans across Canada and beyond while playing for the Senators. It all seems like yesterday when we were together in Ottawa…
In 1995, I joined the Ottawa Senators as a Pro Scout. Within a few weeks, we made our first trade. Bryan Berard who was the “Sens” first overall pick in the 95 draft refused to come to Ottawa. The New York Islanders really liked Berard and they were lukewarm on a young draft pick of their own, selected 2nd overall in same draft, Wade Redden. It was the perfect trade for both teams. Other players were involved but they were the dominant players. A shy, raw kid from Western Canada, Wade came to Ottawa the following season. He immediately made an impression in his first camp and earned a job as a 19-year-old. It all fit like a glove. Wade was one of several other young players (Havlat, Hossa, Fisher, Phillips etc..). He was given responsibilities, played special teams and a regular shift. He was our “goto” defenseman at a very young age. He was reliable, seldom made mistakes with or without the puck. His passes were sharp and accurate. He was not a pro-active physical player but he competed. He was seldom beaten off the puck and his hockey sense and anticipation gave him an advantage when it came to winning battles. He stuck up for teammates when they were in trouble. He got into a few fights, although he didn’t win many, he earned the respect of the coaching staff and his teammates. He was instrumental in elevating the Senators to respectability. Wade was always a “plus” player and a leader on the team. Wade Redden was a role model for the young generation of hockey players and fans.
WHERE DO YOU GO FROM HERE, WADE? I watched you play over the last couple of seasons with the Rangers and you seem to have lost your passion for the game. The focus isn’t there, the extra effort is gone as well as your great instincts’. You cleared waivers, which is no surprise because of the size of your contract and the deep pockets of the Rangers who can afford to pay you this kind of money in the minors. You now find yourself in the minors and possibly facing a buy-out next spring. How you react to this situation will define you forever. Please don’t embarrass yourself any further by playing poorly. The AHL is strong enough to eat you up if you’re not ready to play, especially on defense. This situation must motivate you to find your game again. It’s unknown if you’ll get another chance to play for the Rangers because of “cap” issues but it’s up to you to decide whether you’ll just fade away and collect your money or play to earn a chance in the “show” again and finish your career on your own terms. I hope to see you in the NHL again and play like you can. It would make me and many hockey fans happy!