Too much of a good thing

The NHL believes that playing just one outdoor game a year is not enough.

Yesterday, the league unveiled its master plan to play six outdoor games – including the New Years’ Day Winter Classic – as part of a “stadium series.”

The venues and teams are as follows:
Maple Leafs at Red Wings, Michigan Stadium, Jan. 1
Ducks vs. Kings at Dodger Stadium, Jan. 25
Devils vs. Rangers at Yankee Stadium, Jan. 26
Islanders vs. Rangers at Yankee Stadium, Jan 29
Penguins at Blackhawks, Soldier Field, March 1
Senators at Canucks, BC Place, March 2

The Winter Classic, and its cousin the Heritage Classic (Uncle Gary Bettman doesn’t pay as much attention to that one), are awesome – and I have a suspicion that the novelty of those games will wear off if we get an onslaught of outdoor games.

I get what the league is trying to do. Playing games in the south in early winter gets warmer climate cities outdoor game opportunities. Additionally, more games gets places with smaller markets (Minnesota, St. Louis, Denver, etc.) an equal shot at hosting such an event.

But I worry that too much of a good thing – in this case, getting to the great outdoors – will be bad for the league.

Given that this broke just last night, I’m open to anyone’s opinions, as I’m really not sold on anything yet.

“Contact Along the Boards”

That’s the title of the most recent “educational video” released by the NHL Department of Player Safety which sheds light on the topic of what is, and what is not an illegal hit near the boards.

And, wow, did they embarrass themselves.

During the video, Brendan Shanahan states before every segment why a certain play is a legal hit. And more often than not (yup, you guessed it), the officials called it a penalty on the ice.

I appreciate the NHL releasing the videos to schmucks like us – I actually found it very informative. But we’re not the people who make those decisions. The real guys that should be watching these videos are wearing stripes.

Sit them all down with a bowl of popcorn – heck, have a sleepover if that will make it stick – and make sure these guys learn how to make these calls consistently.

You want to call a penalty where I guy gets hit in the noggin – fine. Even if it’s a clean hit – fine. Just, for the love of God, please do it consistently.

The NFL faced a similar problem with headshots. Sure, they occasionally flag legal hits. But guess what? It’s consistent. You make contact with a guy above the shoulders – flag. No exception.

What is so hard about that?

Making it worse was Shanahan’s notion of rescinding the penalty if he deemed it legal. Oh great! I’m glad you do that AFTER the opposing team scored on a power play when I shouldn’t have been in the box to begin with.

The fact that the NHL released a video shedding light on a problem they haven’t solved is embarrassing.

What’s next? “The functionality of league/union relations”?

Ryan White

Hey, here’s one the NHL actually got right.

Monday night’s Habs/Flyers game saw a terribly dirty hit on Philadelphia’s Kent Huskins by Montreal’s P.K. Subb…whoops, sorry, just a reflex…Ryan White.

As Huskins was outletting from his own zone, White came across and gave him a blind-side flying elbow to the chops. Huskins appeared loopy after the hit and did not return. White received a game misconduct and five minutes for fighting after the hit.

The disciplinary hearing is scheduled for today – and is in person, which means it could be more than five games. Given White’s inability to stay out of trouble, it should be for the whole season – or what’s left of it anyway.

Check out the hit

Taylor Swift

If I have to hear one more GD rumor about Taylor Swift and Sidney Crosby, I’m going to snap.

First of all, Taylor Swift is a terrible human being and should never be allowed to influence generations of today’s youth.

Second, if anyone actually wants Taylor Swift around the Penguins’ organization, then you’re being a fan for the wrong reasons.

Third, whoever photoshopped this picture of the two of them could’ve at least found two photos where they dressed in similar fashion. Seriously.

Moving on.

Tambeleaving

Steve Tambellini was given the ax Monday as the general manager of the Edmonton Oilers.

Under Tambellini, Edmonton was a dismal 138-185-46.

Oh, and did I mention the Oilers have had the top pick in each of the last three drafts? Because, yeah, there’s that too.

Not to mention, each one of those picks – Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov – have been recording top-six minutes for Edmonton.

So Edmonton is sort of like the Pirates of the NHL...only they actually have managed to get the best draft picks by being last in the league, aaaaaand their losing season streak is about oooooooh 15 years shorter.

Tambellini was replaced by Craig MacTavish, who completes the Oilers’ Triple Crown after playing for the Drips in the late 80s and early 90s, and coaching them no more than four years ago.

Since then, MacTavish served as Edmonton’s senior vice president of hockey operations.

It’s likely too late to turn the Oilers around this season, weighing in at 16-18-7 with just a week and a half left.

But perhaps MacTavish can be the Garth Snow of Edmonton who could actually turn the team around.

Well that will do it for this week’s Humpday Hater Report. Be sure to check back next week for more. Until then, happy hating!