Just some thoughts on the sports world lately

Because of a couple of projects stealing my free time, and then getting socked by the flu, I haven’t been able to make any posts here. So with that in mind, here’s a few random tidbits I’ve been thinking about sports lately….

While I’m a huge proponent of video replay in sports, the NHL really needs to take a look at how it’s been used. Despite having the cameras in the wrong place they’ve gotten the area around the goal line figured out as well as they can using that technology. My problem is the use of video review to determine if a play was onside. The biggest issue is, and one that already proves how dumb this is, is that there are no cameras along the blue line. Linesmen have to use a camera angle usually taken from high above the red center line to determine if the puck was completely across the blue line before additional attacking players were. To make this even dumber, the review takes place on the ice on a tablet that is only marginally larger than my phone. Until the NHL puts cameras along the blue line and installs actual monitors the on-ice officials can use offside reviews should be stopped.

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Speaking of on-ice officials, Calgary Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman’s 20 game suspension for crosschecking linesman Don Henderson was reduced to ten games by independent arbitrator James Oldham. Ten games was the amount that I was expecting NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman to hand out when he ruled on the incident, so the reduction by Oldham is exactly what I suspected should happen. While handing down his original suspension Bettman cited the “intent to injure” clause in the rules. Of Bettman’s finding, Oldham indicated “…that conclusion is not substantially supported by the totality of the evidence…”. Rule 40.3 allows for a maximum of a ten game suspension when there is no intent to injure, and Oldham followed that rule in upholding Wideman’s appeal and reducing the suspension.

The NHL issued a statement that included, “We are reviewing the Opinion in detail to determine what next steps may be appropriate.” Well, according to the CBA they don’t have any “next steps”. The CBA says “the NDA’s decision shall be final and binding in all respects and not subject to review”. So anything the NHL says at this point is just posturing. I fully understand the stance NHLOA (the union representing the on-ice officials) is taking, and would have been disappointed had they not done so. But as I said before, this is where we should have been to begin with, which is why Oldham brought the parties to this point.

The irony is Wideman had already served 19 of the original 20 games handed down. He will now be paid for the final nine games he served.

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The National Women’s Hockey League playoffs ended Saturday night with the Boston Pride sweeping the Buffalo Beauts 2-0 and winning the first ever Isobel Cup. It was a great season for the Pride and the four team NWHL, and based on a couple of tweets (and a source or two involved) it appears the NWHL will be expending to six teams, with two franchises setting up shop next season in Canada. It truly is an exciting time for women’s hockey here in the northeast.

One thing I thought was a tad odd about the Isobel Cup finals was they were played at a neutral site, the practice facility for the New Jersey Devils. It’s dawned on me that if this is going to be the practice of the NWHL and play the best-of-three finals at a neutral site the DCU Center in Worcester should really be making a push to hold this event. The NWHL apparently hasn’t released attendance numbers, but several tweets indicate Saturdays clinching game was “standing room only”. This seems like a no-brainer for Worcester to at least inquire about the possibility.

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For my money, David Feherty is one of the best analysts on TV for sports. In past years on CBS his humor and insights were well beyond what most bring to golf telecasts, and he hasn’t missed a beat at his new home on NBC/Golf Channel. It took no more than one small segment to show how good Feherty is. While standing in front of a statue of a Copperhead at Innisbrook Golf Club (nicknamed “Copperhead”, which is why the statue is there) Feherty recounted a story where he was bit by “the only poisonous snake in Ireland” when playing a practice round years ago with Sam Torrance in preparation for a European PGA event. Feherty then added, “There are only two ways to get bitten by a snake; you can be really unlucky or be really stupid. And you can guess which one I was”.

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Lost of folks the last few days have talked about the Jessica Moran/John Farrell situation, where the now former reporter for Comcast SportsNet is apparently in a relationship with the still married head coach of the Boston Red Sox. Originally, I couldn’t have cared less about this. I don’t watch Comcast SportsNet and had never heard of Jessica Moran until the news broke, so it just didn’t seem that big a deal to me. But then I heard the comments of Jackie MacMullan, columnist for ESPN.com. (I’m going to steal a line from Ron Chimelis of Masslive.com here, “To call MacMullan one of the best woman reporters in the business is unintentionally denigrating. She’s one of the best, period…”). I never thought of the issues women sports reporters have in doing their jobs, and how the actions of a very few cast a large shadow over others working hard to do it right.

Until hearing what MacMullan had to say on WEEI, and then listening to Michael Holley talk about asking players and managers for their phone numbers to be able to speak to them it never dawned on me the obvious hurdles in place in front of women sports reporters. After the actions of Moran and Jenny Dell (who is now married to ex-Boston infielder Will Middlebrooks), how does a female sports reporter like The Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin ask a player for contact information without it being unintentionally awkward?

Farrell isn’t innocent in all of this either. This type of thing can cause chaos in a locker room, and with him already being on a short leash from two consecutive last place finishes one has to wonder is that leash just got a little shorter. Nothing like being close to losing your job and then shooting yourself in the foot because you can’t keep your nose, or anything else, away from places it probably doesn’t belong.

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