If you know anything about former NHL star Michael Peca, you know that he’s a guy that played his tail off each and every night. He played tough, he played smart, and he played physical. Now that he’s working as an analyst for TSN in Canada, he’s bringing that same sort of mentality to television and now he’s taking heat for it. Recently, Peca talked about Flames defenseman Jay Bouwmeester and offered a colorful opinion of the star blue liner (TSN video link). NHL Fanhouse’s Bruce Ciskie brings us the quotes and reaction from Calgary.
“Playing against this guy for a lot of years, I’ve just seen a very casual player with tremendous speed,” Peca said.
Peca also blamed Bouwmeester in large part for Calgary’s failings on the power play last year. Despite some veteran scorers up front, the Flames ranked in the league’s bottom five with the man advantage.
“He’s a guy they brought in to QB the power play,” Peca added. “I enjoyed playing against him. He turned pucks over. He made it easy to play.”
Calgary’s team president, Ken King, fired back at Peca during an interview on The Fan 960.
“I think it was out of line,” King told host Rob Kerr. “This is a guy talking about his peer … someone he’s played with. We get lots of criticism about how well or how poorly a player is functioning.
“But to diss and to take such a low-brow approach to laughing at or ridiculing one of the premier defensemen in the league, I just think it’s completely inappropriate.”
Hearing a former player speak so directly and critically of a guy he’s played against is rare. In sports media, we’ve got hosts of former players on the air talking about the games they used to play and bringing forth empty opinions saying nothing worth remembering. Hockey players aren’t usually the type to do the same thing and Peca certainly didn’t hold back.
Flames president Ken King was just sticking up for his guy, but getting a bit histrionic in doing so which just makes the situation what it is and why we’re talking about it now. The key here is that Peca is providing the sort of insight that fans want to hear and what they want to know. Even Flames fans might be curious to hear that their top defenseman is a guy that at least one forward believes is soft and turnover prone. After all, it’s just one guy’s opinion and he would know because he’s played against him.
Opinions are always fun because everyone’s got one and they’re fun for debate. In my opinion (a-ha!), Peca’s free to say what he wants to and Ken King flipping out about it is his prerogative. Whoever you decide you want to believe is your call, but for King to want Peca to keep his thoughts to himself is foolish. This is what he’s brought on to do and if you don’t care for what he says, you don’t have to hear it.
Peca bringing that kind of talk to television is refreshing for sports because most everything else we get from athletes-turned-talking-heads is so bland it makes your eyes glaze over. Peca wasn’t being a jerk about his thoughts nor was he being malicious. What’s the problem here? There is no problem.