Yes...The Blizzard of Oz is back.
No. Not as a semi-coherent "reality star" with severe parenting issues.
No. We need the "anti-establishment, chewing-the-heads-off-of-baby-chicks, pseudo-satanic rocker" Ozzy who penned the 1980 slacker anthem Crazy
Why...you might ask, do we need this?
serves as the poster child for the Philadelphia Flyers, as of late.
OK...give me a second...and remember I am a preppy Deadhead, so be gentle. [turns around]
[turns back looking something like
[insert maniacal laughter] [insert drum and bass satanic intro]
OK. I am not pulling it off...and you can get off the floor now. Seriously, stop convulsing with laughter, I might get a complex.
Crazy but that's how it goes...
The Flyers have been playing schizophrenic hockey for more than a month. One day they look like a club ready to challenge the elite teams in the league on a regular basis, the next they look like the gang that couldn't shoot straight. Rather than trying to explain the up and down nature of the Flyers' play since late October, I will let the schedule do the talking, and it speaks volumes.
Oct 20, 2007 Hurricanes 2 Flyers 3 OT W
Oct 24, 2007 Flyers 3 Panthers 4 L
Oct 25, 2007 Flyers 2 Lightning 5 L
Oct 27, 2007 Flyers 2 Bruins 1 W
Nov 1, 2007 Flyers 2 Canadiens 5 L
Nov 2, 2007 Flyers 3 Capitals 2 W
Nov 5, 2007 Flyers 0 Rangers 2 L
Nov 7, 2007 Flyers 3 Penguins 1 W
Nov 8, 2007 Flyers 1 Devils 4 L
Nov 10, 2007 Penguins 2 Flyers 5 W
Nov 12, 2007 Islanders 2 Flyers 3 W
Nov 15, 2007 Rangers 4 Flyers 3 SO L
Nov 17, 2007 Devils 6 Flyers 2 L
Nov 21, 2007 Flyers 6 Hurricanes 3 W
Nov 23, 2007 Capitals 4 Flyers 3 OT L
Nov 24, 2007 Flyers 4 Senators 3 W
Nov 26, 2007 Bruins 6 Flyers 3 L
Nov 28, 2007 Flyers 3 Hurricanes1 W
Dec 1, 2007 Stars 4 Flyers 1 L
Dec 5, 2007 Flyers 3 Wild 1 W
Mental wounds still screaming, driving me insane
What you see when you look at the above results is a team that is is the hockey equivalent of balancing on two legs of a chair and just catching yourself...24 hours a day. They are capable of beating anyone and losing to anyone on a given night. This is a team lacking consistency
- I know, I know...bring the Nobel Prize for stating the obvious. But if it is so obvious, then why can someone not "fix" it?
Is this the natural maturation process of a team loaded with young talent? Is "night-after-night elite level consistency" asking too much of young leaders/players (Richards-22, Carter-22, Umberger-25, Lupul-24, Upshall-24, Coburn-22, Hartnell-25)? Is this a lack of veteran leadership's message being presented and understood? I do not know. My guess is that all teams go through it and you just have to experience it to learn from it. I hope so.
Going off the rails on a crazy train...
When you add to the erratic play (both good and bad), the three-ring circus that has become the ridiculous over-analysis of every bit of contact between a player wearing Orange and Black and any other jersey...who would not be a little crazy. I would be more than crazy, I would be mad as a hatter. Now the Flyers are on some sort of Dean Wermer-esque double secret probation
from the Lord of Discipline. So now the Flyers have to try to maintain their mental edge, figh through a toughtime and play solid hockey and ignore the national media turmoil surrounding every check that even sniffs of impropriety - of which there a many around the league that are ignored because the player is not from Philadelphia. That is a tall order.
Mental wound not healing, who and what's to blame...
If Colin Campbell really
wanted to end head shots and players taking liberties, the answer is within his grasp. You want to protect star players from the big, bad Flyers (or the real punks like Jarko Ruutu, Tyson Nash and Steve Webb)? The answer is simple: Do away with the instigator rule.
If "no-talent, NHL scrub X" takes a run at your star player [insert name] in today's NHL, he will likely get away with it without so much as a thought of retribution. BECAUSE
if you do, Rule 56 states "that a player who is an aggressor in an altercation...who is deemed to be the instigator of an altercation shall be assessed an instigator minor penalty, a major for fighting and a ten minute misconduct." A player who is the instigator three times within the course of a season automatically
gets suspended for the next two of its team's games. A fourth time and that player gets 4 games and the fifth time gets 6 games. Not much incentive to run out and stick up for your teammate, is there? Not only do you put your team severely shorthanded, but you also get a mark on the wall in Colin Campbell's office. "No-talent NHL scrub X" is free to endanger the likes of Sid, A.O., Towes, Kane, Iginla, Heatley, Briere, Drury, etc... because he does not fear retaliation and if he is caught...he gets a slap on the wrist.
Eliminate, or modify, the instigator rule and "No-talent NHL scrub X" might get away with running a star player once, but not twice. The moment he stepped on the ice, someone much bigger and badder than he would be waiting to dispense justice. Some would say this would be tantamount to returning to the wild west era of the 70s when
Dave Schultz put up 472 penalty minutes - he quietly also scored 20 goals in '73-74 and was not without skill. Those who say this would be wrong. This is not the 70s wild west where players gang tackled/beat into submission opposing players. The rules have been changed to address this - case in point, the 3rd man in rule. Eliminating the instigator would allow players and teams to police themselves. There would not be any free-for-all mayhem, just mano-a-mano justice.
For those who would not want to do away with the rule completely, then increase the number of infractions needed to warrant suspension to 5 or 6 and make them earn their time off. This would at least give the cheap shot artists of the world cause for pause.
The league could also give the refs more tools to combat the ever growing instances of high sticks and crosschecks from behind. Those two infractions would be dramatically reduced if they warranted an immediate double minor with the latitude of the referee to decide if the high stick or crosscheck was severe enough to call a game misconduct. Calling the game like that would go a long way towards ending the "chippy" play that can get players really injured. There is no room for twigs getting up around the face of players or brutal crosschecks from behind - that sort of play has to stop.
The Flyers next stop on this crazy train is Colorado to see if they can string together two wins for the first time since mid-November. I don't know what is going to happen, but I can make a pretty safe bet that it will be exciting.
[insert maniacal laughter]
Thanks for reading...