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Thoughts and thoughts and more thoughts
Talking about the woeful neglect in Chicago; Sabres stuff; and more
Just about everyone has some kind of column or piece about "thoughts” and I guess I’m just going along with the herd in doing one here so bear with me while I get some footing.
First off, the serious stuff, and it’s about the Chicago Blackhawks. An investigation into alleged sexual assault by former video coach Brad Aldrich against a former Blackhawks player revealed the organization knew full-well about the complaints against Aldrich and what likely occurred during the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs. Blackhawks executives including president and CEO John McDonough, GM Stan Bowman and then head coach Joel Quenneville among others decided that not disrupting the team during their run to the Stanley Cup was more important than addressing a heinous situation going on in their midst.
The full report conducted by Jenner & Block, LLP is very thorough and very difficult to read and contains graphic detail into the allegations made against Aldrich. Reading this makes it very difficult to not be upset by what happened and how the Blackhawks handled it. Bowman and the others who have since moved on or were relieved of duties on Tuesday all did nothing and allowed Aldrich to not just stay with the team, but kept him on through the Final, gave him a day with the Stanley Cup, and awarded him a championship ring. They gave Aldrich the option to be investigated further or to resign rather than terminating his employment. It’s depraved.
It’s so difficult to feel anything other than rage and disgust over how this has played out. For 11 years the Blackhawks sat by and hoped none of this would become an issue. For 11 years they knew full-well what had gone on and gave everyone a pass. In a separate incident in 2013, Aldrich was convicted of fourth degree sexual misconduct with a high school student in Michigan. It’s madness he had the opportunity to have a job in a situation like that and it can all be drawn back to Chicago wanting to win the Stanley Cup outweighed doing the right thing. That this kind of thing isn’t new to sports is sickening. That the Blackhawks organization was only fined $2 million dollars would be laughable if it weren’t so enraging.
The overwhelming greed and hunger to win that drives those in power to ignore horrendous situations is a sickness unto itself. Doing what’s right for people is all that matters in life and no number of wins or trophies makes it OK to let people get victimized. We’ve seen this happen in hockey, college football, and women’s soccer and gymnastics and it’s all too much. That accusations of such a serious nature aren’t always taken seriously is horrendous. Those in power must be compelled to do better but it’s difficult to see how anything changes when winning means everything - even if it means debasing yourselves to make it happen.
The early part of the NHL season can lead to some wild analysis or lead to conclusions that could be disproven in a matter of days and that’s all part of the fun, isn’t it? Take the Sabres, for instance.
Buffalo’s 4-1-1 start is probably four wins better than was anticipated out of a team that’s gotten more headlines for who isn’t playing for them than who is. The upside to that is it sets expectations so low that any amount of success is a thing that makes you happy. Performing better than the Blackhawks, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Montreal Canadiens will get Buffalo juiced up though.
Is it sustainable? With all due respect, it’s not, but the style of game they’re playing and the execution of it all is far better than anything that’s been seen in Sabreland the past 10 or 11 years. Seeing 40-year-old Craig Anderson and 32-year-old Dustin Tokarski posting a cumulative .946 save percentage is wild as hell and extremely unexpected given Tokarski was out of the NHL for nearly five years before he wound up playing for the Sabres last season and Anderson was all but retired.
It’s easy to dig into the premature advanced stats and find very positive things as well as some distressing numbers for some players, but after six games who cares? Keep the good vibes alive and enjoy the ride. In past seasons when the Sabres got out to a blazing start, the phrase that came out from everyone was, “we just have to bank points,” for an eventual hope at pursuing a playoff spot.
The team should be very pleased with how they’ve done and even seeing Don Granato getting his yell on against Tampa Bay in a stunning 5-1 win showed that he can make sure guys stay on task. The negative way to look at this is to say, “Well they should’ve been doing stuff like this for a long time!” And sure, yeah, good point. But it didn’t and that’s not good and led to things being more soap opera than anything else - but Granato has things moving in a good direction on the ice and, like I’ve said before, the best way to fix things off the ice is to just win, baby.
We’ll see what a long road trip does to this group with a set of four games against teams that are all over the map in terms of success right now. Just make sure to have some strong coffee in the morning because #SabresAfterDark goes late and stays weird.
I know my whole existence in my work and online surrounds hockey, but I am a sports fan in general and you could not get me to care about the World Series this year. Unlike the Sabres, both the Braves and Astros are just swimming in bad vibes.
Some of the Atlanta players are fun and Dusty Baker is an all-time good guy but man does the rest it make me not give a crap at all. With a lockout looming beginning December 2, it has all the same feels it did when the Lightning beat the Flames for the Cup in 2004 with the exception being those teams were overwhelmingly more likable than these two. When your feeling after a season is along the lines of “good, just get out of my face for a while, please” that doesn’t exude positivity. Baseball has myriad issues and I’m not all that optimistic they’re going to fix or even address most of them while things are shut down.
Remember when we all wrote or said something “had a myriad of problems?” I had to look up how or why that differed than the way I used it above and learned that the differences in use stem from one use being a noun (myriad of) and the other an adjective (myriad). Stop — grammar time. Of course, when I do AP gamers, I have to remember their style book says to not use “myriad of” so let’s see if I can remember that in the future.
If Writers Digest is a trustworthy source (and since it’s the internet it’s always somewhat debatable) their explanation made the most sense to me. If it’s wrong - don’t sue me, just tell me it’s wrong.
Finally, some thanks need to go out. If you haven’t noticed, there are some spiffy logos here and I have to thank Joanna Eberts for her brilliance in being able to take my scatterbrain descriptions and crude sketches and come up with some really great looks. Like a lot of creatives (and I use that very loosely in my case) we’re all scratching for a better job and steadier money coming in.
Visit her website here and check out more of her work. It’s all outstanding and there’s plenty for hockey fans to be in awe of as well. Peep her portrait work on Henrik Zetterberg, Alex Mogilny, and P.K. Subban in particular. No, I’m not picking them because I like all three players. Nope, not at all. I would never play favorites like that ever.