Inside the Locker Room
Behind the scenes look at professional sports
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
When Billions of Dollars Are Involved, Chances Are Health Issues Be Damned
On Saturday, October 24, 2009 the Edmonton Oilers came to Calgary for a highly anticipated Battle of Alberta that was previewed by rivalry and controversy from their last contest in Edmonton.
During this trip, Mike Comrie and Gilbert Brule stayed home with the flu, while J.F. Jacques sat out of the lineup with a sore throat.
This obviously begs the question: what happens if a player or member of team personnel is officially diagnosed with the H1N1 virus? Will NHL teams hide this like they do injuries in the playoffs by calling it an "upper body" ailment? To do so puts everyone in contact at risk, including fans, game day staff (concession kitchen, parking lot attendants, ushers...), media, security, and the list goes on.
The Calgary Herald's Ken Warren wrote this article on September 1, 2009: http://www.calgaryherald.com/sports/story.html?id=1950579. However, nobody seems to be talking about the possibility. Perhaps they are waiting to develop a game plan after the fact.
Somehow, I'm personally not convinced yet of the pandemic, but even if it is viable, I highly doubt that teams and leagues, particularly the NHL when injuries are so secretive, will not run business as usual. But if the pandemic is real, to do so will risk a public relations scandal much more volatile than losing money.
Thursday, October 01, 2009
Nothing But Cup
Fast forward to the first regular season game of the 2009-10 season, and the Canucks quickly fall 2-0 behind the Flames in Calgary halfway through the first period -- 3-0 at the 12-minute mark.
This is a team that may have similar challenges as the Flames had towards the end of last season as they are inched right at the edge of the salary cap -- any of that space has to be used before injury allowances kick in. Pavol Demitra and Mathieu Schneider are still nursing off-season shoulder surgeries.
The Flames kept control and went up 4-2 at the end of the second, but you just knew that second goal (Mikael Samuelsson) woke Vancouver up.
Just :41 into the third, a persistent Alex Burrows put the Canucks behind by one. Halfway through the period, the Canucks posted 14 shots to the Flames one.
Vancouver tallied 41 shots when they pulled Roberto Luongo for an extra attacker with one minute to go, but the Flames pocketed an empty netter -- Dion Phaneuf.
The Canucks pushed back but they were able to get a big penalty kill at the end to hold on.
Calgary's Eric Nystrom, who assisted on his linemate Brandon Prust's goal, along with Fredrik Sjostrom, evaluates, "We're still learning. The two guys I play with are fast players and they hound the puck better than anybody. Once we got control of it, the guys were playing strong, making simple plays, getting it out to the point, and shooting at the net. It's such a simple game."
"We didn't try to be too fancy," adds Sjostrom. "We cycled the puck a lot, and it worked.
It wasn't a pretty win, but coach Brent Sutter will take it. As for the Canucks, they can take some solice into the 42 shots generated, 21 in the third period. Just one game with 81 to go. I still like the Canucks' chances of reaching the final.