This is a new thing we’re trying. Every Wednesday, we’ll publish a little back-and-forth we have via email. We’re calling it the Chip ‘n’ Chase. Yes, it’s a terrible name. Enjoy.
Jason Brough: Hey buddy, so I have to admit, I was really struck by something John Tortorella said earlier this week about the need for players to police themselves. I’m not sure I agree with his argument entirely, but I definitely miss the days when hockey fans didn’t scream for a suspension after every single questionable play. Instead, they screamed for revenge. Good, old-fashioned revenge. I dunno, maybe it’s because we have to write about every single questionable play that I feel this way. Or maybe I’m just getting old and turning into one of those guys who remembers the past being better than it actually was. I just think “all this supplementary discipline and all this crap that comes after,” as Torts put it, is exhausting.
Mike Halford: That was so old school it was written on a typewriter and sent to me via telefax. And you know what? I LIKED IT. I fondly remember the days when a cheap hit was cause to check the calendar for when the two teams played next. Now, you head to Twitter and debate @hawkey_bra1111 about suspension length while waiting to find out if it’s an in-person or phone hearing. It’s a lot less fun. Speaking of less fun, what do you figure Brendan Shanahan — the guy in charge of “all this crap that comes after” — thinks about this? Shanny (it’s OK, we’re tight) wasn’t exactly a saint when he played (see here and here and here and here) and fought nearly 100 times during his career. Think his old-school mentality sometimes clashes with his job?
JB: I think Shanny genuinely believes in what he’s doing, which is trying to make the game safer than it was when he was playing. But yeah, I’m sure he pines for the old days sometimes. Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes fake suspension videos as a form of stress therapy. “The NHL has decided to suspend Maxim Lapierre for one game and will also force him to fight a player of San Jose’s choosing.” Come to think of it, maybe that’s what the league needs to start doing — creative suspensions, like some judges do. For example, if you injure a San Jose player, you have to spend five minutes swimming with sharks. Or if you injure a Colorado player, you get pelted with snowballs, like you’re in an avalanche. Or if you injure a Buffalo player, you get your hands cut off by a gigantic sword.
MH: I think the NHLPA might take issue with that last one, unless the hands go to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund. You know what else is tough about Shanahan’s job? When a situation goes FUBAR and there’s no rule in place to address it. Like the Emery-Holtby incident. Suspending goalies for leaving the crease to fight was never a consideration before, but now it’s being considered. For the record, I will be sad if they take away goalie fights, because goalie fights are to the NHL what fat sumo suits are to Thirsty Thursday at the student union. Anyway, let’s shift gears to tonight’s big game: Rangers versus Penguins. Is it me, or have we written nothing about the Pens this year? They’re just so…not a complete disaster. First-place team, Sidney Crosby’s healthy and Marc-Andre Fleury hasn’t melted down. It clearly doesn’t mesh with PHT’s editorial mandate of writing billions of posts about teams that resemble a garbage fire. We are jackals.
JB: We are total jackals, aren’t we. Just lurking in the shadows waiting for the next carcass to pick over. Wait, is that what jackals do? Maybe we’re vultures. Whatever, we’re just giving the people what they want. You’re right; the Pens are extremely boring this year. I mean, I guess their fans don’t feel that way; they probably think it’s pretty exciting watching Crosby pile up points and Fleury make saves as opposed to allowing comically bad goals. But for the other 29 teams’ fans? Borrrrrr-ing. They’d rather Crosby struggle like, say, Claude Giroux is struggling. If it’s not their team, they want to read about failure. Utter, humiliating failure. By the way, still no goals for Philly’s captain. Know how I know that? I check this website every day. And I follow this account on Twitter.
MH: I’m waiting on Twitter accounts for fellow zero-goal scorers Martin Erat (19 goals in 2011-12), David Desharnais (16 in ’11-12) and Tomas Kopecky (15 in 47 games last year). Kopecky deserves special mention because no forward in the NHL has taken more shots (37) this year without scoring. The only worse Panthers-related numbers are the team’s 50/50 payouts. See? This is what people want to hear — the fact last night’s 50/50 prize was only $1,598 because empty seats don’t typically purchase 50/50 tickets. Officially, attendance was 12,035 versus the Oilers, but there’s no way there were that many people in the building.
JB: Move the Panthers to Quebec City! Or Seattle! Or Las Vegas! Or, another idea would be to win some damn games. I always enjoy when people rip a market for attendance and conveniently ignore the fact the team has been absolutely dreadful. I’m not saying Sunrise is a great place to put an NHL team, but come on, the Panthers have been to the playoffs twice in the new millennium. That’s not the way to build a fanbase. Maybe Blackhawks, Bruins and Penguins fans have forgotten when their rinks had thousands of empty seats. Which is weird, because it wasn’t that long ago. Anyway, Dale Tallon has a real mess on his hands. He’s vowing to fix it. I just don’t know if that’s going to be possible by trading Ryan Whitney. Might take a bit more than that.