Archive for 2016-12-04

McDavid Blasts Brandon Manning Post-Game

Following Thursday's loss to the Flyers, Connor McDavid didn't hold back after finding out that the apparently unintentional tripping that caused him to miss three months last season wasn't, after all, unintentional. Manning suggested during the game that he intended to trip McDavid and the result was a very distraught Oilers captain, who had a lot to say both during and after the game.


The often bland and subdued McDavid was emotional and to the point, calling Manning classless and unwilling to stand up to McDavid and his teammates.

Manning has of course denied saying such things. Admitting so would be a terrible career move. Instead, he's opted to rebut McDavid's comments telling media that McDavid chirped the Flyers bench all night and had some sort of vendetta against him for something that was clearly an accident.

McDavid didn't specify on the comments themselves, but whatever was said, must have been enough to get under the skin of the often calm and unwavering superstar. Nazem Kadri was all over McDavid earlier this year and the result was not a peep from the McDavid camp. This was not that McDavid.

The next meeting between these two teams should lead to fireworks.

The World Weighs In

When things like this happen in hockey, people will take a side. There are a lot of folks today calling McDavid a whiner and a privileged crybaby. Those people are mostly not Oiler fans. They are comparing him to Sidney Crosby, another superstar who gets targeted a lot by other players and often has a lot to say to opponents and referees on and off the ice.

Others are glad to see McDavid isn't holding back and finally coming out of his shell. He's becoming a much more vocal leader who wears his heart on his sleeve and speaks his mind. The quiet McDavid was anything but quiet.on Thursday and former players like Wayne Gretzky don't mind one bit.

An Unfortunate Situation

While entertaining, whatever was said and McDavid's response are unfortunate. It shows that players like McDavid are still the target of others and that in targeting them, players like Manning will step over the line, putting the NHL's superstars at risk. To hear that they may be doing so intentionally is bad for the league.

With the rule changes that don't allow players to police themselves and take care of business, this is a trend that will likely get worse before it gets better.

But, who cares what I think right? For now, I'll just keep my mouth shut until I feel like spilling my guts again.





Jim Parsons is a business owner, husband, father and sports fan. For more information about Oilersnetwork.com founder and Oil Spill articles author Jim Parsons, click here.




Want to start spilling your sports gut? We're looking for writers. Go here.


The Expansion Draft Changes Contract Extensions

I wrote an earlier piece about how the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft may change the way the Edmonton Oilers approach any potential trades this season. I suggested that the Oilers would need to consider what contracts they'd be bringing in and that any terms longer than ones ending this year, could be counter-productive considering they stand to lose those players in expansion or must alter their protected list as a result.

You can see that post here.

It sparked some interesting discussion on Facebook in that there is some uncertainty as to how the rules of trading for players by Las Vegas will affect who is actually still eligible to be drafted. If there is truth to the news that if Vegas makes a trade for a player, that team from which that player arrives will no longer be eligible as a draft accessible team. It opens up the possibility for some very creative managing.



Extensions


What isn't affected by this potential detail are contract extensions. Any team that extends a player during the season, would then have to consider how it affects their protected list. Case in point would be the Oilers and Kris Russell. Scott Oake of Rogers Sportsnet made a comment during a Hockey Night in Canada broadcast that the Oilers and Russell were working on a way to keep Russell in Edmonton.

“He’s played so well here that resigning him would seem to be a priority, otherwise Russell becomes a free agent again this coming summer. There’s also a chance Edmonton could lose him in Vegas expansion draft. But what the Oilers have going for him is Russell is an Alberta boy, a genuine cowboy from Caroline, who plays his best hockey in his home province…The expectation there is a deal to be made with Russel here.”

For the most part, I'm sure many fans would like to see Russell extended if the terms are right. However, extending Russell now changes the dynamic of which defensemen the Oilers can protect come expansion.

If Edmonton signs Russell, they would likely want to protect him. That leaves exposed either Adam Larsson or Oscar Klefbom if the Oilers stick with the 7-3-1 position protection plan that works the most in their favor (Oilers are forced to protect Sekera). Seven forwards, three defensemen and a goaltender allow the Oilers to protect the highest quantity of players. If the Oilers then have to protect four blue-liners, a good forward will be exposed.

Trades


Could the Oilers work out a deal with the Vegas Golden Knights to swing a trade prior to the expansion, making it so that Edmonton isn't one of the teams Vegas selects from? If the news and rumors about the draft are correct, possibly.

Edmonton might ship a pick and a player to Vegas for a pick in return and while they give up an asset or lose that trade, take themselves out of the running to lose a player via the draft. The trick will be to convince Vegas that this is something that benefits the Golden Knights.

Where the Oilers will have room for extensions is in the forward position. Right now, with the 7-3-1 rule and should Edmonton stick to a list that includes players like Tyler Pitlick, they could extend Pitlick without worry of losing him or putting another player at risk.

There will be some interesting maneuvering that goes on in the final months of the season and just before the expansion. One thing that seems certain, is that if Edmonton extends Kris Russell between January and before the expansion draft, another move is required to keep the defensive core together.

But, who cares what I think right? For now, I'll just keep my mouth shut until I feel like spilling my guts again.





Jim Parsons is a business owner, husband, father and sports fan. For more information about Oilersnetwork.com founder and Oil Spill articles author Jim Parsons, click here.




Want to start spilling your sports gut? We're looking for writers. Go here.

McDavid Angry, But NHL's Concussion Protocol Working

If you watched the Edmonton Oilers versus the Minnesota Wild game on Sunday, you likely witnessed a trend that is going to play a continued role in future NHL games. That trend is the NHL's concussion spotters making a decision and the response being frustrated professional hockey players. It's a dichotomy that will likely last as long as there are risks to player safety, but in the end, these spotters are merely doing what they're supposed to do.


In this case, protocol said to pull a player off the ice to potentially protect him from himself. That player was Connor McDavid. The normally subdued and very professional Oilers' captain, laughed off the referees when the decision was made and it was obvious McDavid was annoyed. Perhaps, from McDavid's point of view, he may have had an argument. At the end of the day, does it matter?

The Specifics


Near the end of the second period, McDavid was tripped by Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon and wound up banging his chin pretty hard in Sunday's contest. He grabbed his mouth, got up and seemed fine, but concussion spotters made a different call. Not long after the incident, it was determined McDavid may have hit his head harder than he should have and the specific concussion crew who witnessed the incident called the on-ice officials and forced McDavid out of the game until he was medically cleared to return.

Whether you agree or disagree with the call, this is the job assigned to these spotters. It is the purpose of the mandated concussion protocol. On Sunday, the NHL and their new concussion initiative did the correct thing.

 

Edmonton's Reaction

Not everyone agreed. McDavid clearly didn't like the call. His team was going to have a two-man powerplay and being forced into the locker room meant he wouldn't be able to contribute to the Oilers potentially taking advantage. Patrick Maroon was also very vocal on the topic. He took advantage of an opportunity given him by Sportsnet's Mark Spector to speak his mind:
'This is a man's game... People are going to get hit, get high-sticked. They're going to go through the middle and get hit. That's part of hockey, and that's why we have all this gear that protects us. Yes, if someone gets seriously hurt, we're concerned. But he just fell, got tripped. I just don't get it.

The Player's Argument

For McDavid, what he felt was probably equivalent to receiving a punch in the jaw from a fist made of ice. Maroon is correct in that professional hockey players have likely felt worse. McDavid knew it was no big deal, teammates like Maroon probably knew he was fine, but the protocol said that the best medicine was caution. Isn't that the point?

Players want to play. It irritates them when someone who can't possibly know how they feel tells them they're not in a position to make that call for themselves. That said, the players are often not the best judge of right and wrong in these cases. The new rules are in place to protect players. Sometimes these players need it.



The NHL's concussion initiative started last season. It was used a few times, but not terribly often. Now that players, coaches and management are aware of the systems and protocols, players should be more accustomed to how the process works. Short-term, these decisions may not be popular. They might even cost a team an opportunity to win a game. Long-term, they have the potential to save someone's career.

The result of the debate is that NHL concussion crews and the decisions they make often come with some controversy. The NHL seems ok with that.

The NHL's Argument

The NHL will argue that when concussion protocol works likes it's supposed to, it's inevitable the players will be upset. The process catches incidences where the players and coaches don't. Because McDavid came back in the third period and because the Oilers lost in overtime on Sunday, the loss was in many ways blamed on a mere few minutes. The topic caught fire and on Monday and NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly addressed the situation.

Daly told TSN that he was fine with the spotters and how they have conducted themselves this year. “We have no intention of changing the standards that are employed based on the situation in the game or season,” Daly said.

Daly later admitted that the process is a work in progress, but overall the NHL is happy with how the protocol is working. He added, “It’s always better to err on the side of caution.”

It's not often I agree with things the NHL does. And yes, I was upset to see McDavid not a part of the 5-on-3 powerplay. But, long-term, I'd rather watch an NHL that looks after every player when they feel the player may not look after themselves. After an NHL player's career is over, there is daily life to worry about. Players may not care in the heat of the moment. It's natural, but it's not the right thing.

Right or wrong, someone else has to make the calls that players won't.

But, who cares what I think right? For now, I'll just keep my mouth shut until I feel like spilling my guts again.





Jim Parsons is a business owner, husband, father and sports fan. For more information about Oilersnetwork.com founder and Oil Spill articles author Jim Parsons, click here.




Want to start spilling your sports gut? We're looking for writers. Go here.