Sunday, April 15, 2012

Freedom Means Having Nothing to Lose

The beauty of being a Flyers fan (any Philly-sports fan, actually) - and presumably a member of the Flyers organization - is that you don't have to be ashamed of who or what you are. In fact, one of the joys is that you can actually enjoy it - revel in it even. Even better, when your opposition comes down to your level, you can enjoy watching them grovel in it.

As a PSU alum, it hurts to bring this up, but it's germane.... Why was the media so quick to jump on Penn State over the Sandusky stuff? Because PSU had always painted themselves as "the good guys" and "the ones who are better than all that" (whatever you might want to lump under "all that"). Any time you can show that the high-and-mighty have feet of clay, its "news".

That's why, unless there's other things to stop them, the media's gonna start chirping at the Pens. The Pens set themselves as above all this, but then totally blew that out of the water and on national TV. Congrats, Pittsburgh Penguins: you totally stepped on your dicks out there.

At any rate, yeah, even where the Philadelphia Flyers were complicit in today's festivities, they weren't the ones pissing on their own white knight reputations. That's what the Sports Illustrated writer seems to miss when trying to make his point.

Shanahan: You've Made It Worse, Not Better

Dear Brendan:

When you were appointed to be league disciplinarian, I was hopeful that this was some kind of sign from the league that, instead of just paying lip-service to "the new NHL", that the league was finally serious about things.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm a fan of the old, rough-and-tumble style of hockey that I grew up with in the 70s and 80s. I've not liked the fact that I've had to watch my beloved Broad Street Bullies have to ignore their lineage and adjust to playing in "the new NHL". That said, I'm an adult. I'm a fan of the sport. I like seeing my favorite players have long, productive careers. So, I was willing to adjust to the changes. And, admittedly, while the game is different, it's at least as exciting as the bloody games of my youth.

That said, as someone who's been willing to give up enjoyment of the old time style of hockey, I feel as though I've been sold a bill of goods. I watch my team finally mostly complete the transformation from winning through grinding the opposition into the dust to winning through pure skill and observance of the fundamentals. Then, I watch as certain teams are allowed to get away with the hockey equivalent of murder, game in and game out. I feel like I was suckered. I feel like I was told "if you give up your weapons, I'll make it worth your while" only to be shivved by the people that promised me a new and better hockey experience.

Under your tenure, I've watched the league go from questionable officiating and supplementary discipline to something that's no longer questionable. The agenda that used to just be hinted at is now quite clear.

Overall, I think that your appointment has made things worse than they were before. In the beginning, you seemed really interested in ensuring that everyone toed the player-safety line. Then, somewhere around the time of this year's AllStar Game, it all changed. Things that got anyone suspended - star or repeat-offender - now don't even get a full review. Now, it feels like it's open-season out there. It feels like the players are in a position of having to figure out what's actually allowed and what's not; what will be enforced and what won't; and, worst of all, who is subject to sanction and who's immune. It's awful.

I don't know if the change I've watched unfold is because you've changed your mind or the league has forced you to change your mind. I can only hope that it's the latter. Otherwise, I really have to question your integrity and your ethics. I have to question everything about you as it relates to hockey.

In the end, I can only hope that you redeem yourself by looking back on the body of disciplinary work you've authored, this season, and say to yourself, "I've jobbed this up good and proper" and resign. I hope that, if the jobbing was at the behest of others, you use the freedom associated with your resignation to let the world know, "hey, wasn't my fault: I was told by the league to sacrifice players' safety for the greater-good of the league's bottom-line." 

One way or the other, you need to do something to fix the mess you've involved yourself in and helped to create.

Dear Mario Lemieux:

Your "team" is really harshing my ability to have an "ugly Flyers fan" buzz. I mean, how can the Flyers possibly begin to compete with what your your "model of professionalism" team does? If someone in Orange and Black did even half as dirty of shit that your team puts into even a single game, they'd be banned for the freaking season.

So, at this point, from all Flyers fans, I have to conceded the dirty-play crown to the Pittsburgh organization. It only took you the best part of thirty years to do it, but, congrats: the crown is well and truly yours. Perhaps you and your buddy Bettman can use it as a prop in your sexy-time games. Sindey would look positively divine in a crown.


As a bit of a PS: when the Flyers first earned the crown in the 70s, it was a tactic to get them to a couple of Cups and appeal to the blue-collar heart of a city. It wasn't just the tantrums of a team full of spoiled, coddled, and rule-immune brats. Maybe you ought to rethink what you allow the people that wear your organization's logos to do.

Delaying the Inevitable

Why does the league promote and protect Sindey Crosby? Because they really don't want to have to re-align the league to accommodate the Las Vegas (or Kansas City) Penguins.

Let's face it: when the Crosby years are five years done, the Pens "fans" currently filling seats at the Consol Center will be back to doing what they did after Lemieux retired and Jagr shipped out (not buying season tickets).

Don't get me wrong: I know plenty of real Pens fans. They're the ones who have 20 year old jerseys that they've either worn since they were new or were family hand-me-downs (and don't bear Crosby's or Malkin's numbers on them) Unfortunately, it seems like most of them aren't the ones in a geographical position to actually keep the Pens' arena filled. I should probably also cut Pittsburgh some slack: it's not like the city's economically big enough to fully support more than one team. Sadly for the Pens, the team the city's chosen to support is the Steelers.

Engineering Priorities

I know that Plus is probably more geek-oriented than other social networks, but the fact that the NHL playoffs don't really seem to be "trending" in any meaningful way is kinda ridiculous. It probably doesn't help that most of the NHL teams that have a social media presence have that presence almost exclusively on Twitter and/or Facebook (and, seems, most frequently, FaceBook by way connecting their official FB account to their Twitter account).

But why is it that entitities like the NHL concentrate their efforts almost exclusively on sites like Twitter and/or FaceBook? For starters,  FaceBook, Twitter and other networks make it dead-easy to post once and get your message out to a number of sites at once. Google's Plus? Not so much. Crap like this is why Google really needs to work on their cross-platform sharing APIs (have they even published anything meaningful, yet??).

For me, this lack of being able to see updates via Plus is the second biggest reason (behind friends' not being willing to move off FB) that I still need to log into FB and/or Twitter. I come to Plus because I want to. I have absolutely nothing I could (correctly or incorrectly) conflate with a need to login to Plus.