On Vigneault and Skategate
Elliotte Friedman nominates a surprising Canuck MVP for their first round series:
It would have been very easy for the players to be distracted by the goofy belief of a conspiracy against the organization. Vigneault wouldn’t allow that. The coaching staff made the necessary adjustments and Vancouver won three straight to snare the series. For better or worse, a team takes on the personality of its coach. If he is unable to maintain calm, it loses. It’s that simple. Roberto Luongo made a couple of enormous saves. Mikael Samuelsson scored seven goals. The Sedins had 18 points. But, in this series, Vigneault was the Canucks’ MVP.
While I don’t think I’d give more credit to Vigneault than I would to the players, I do think that Alain has done a great job coaching this team throughout his tenure. He’s as good at his job as anyone in the league. He’s an excellent bench manager, he developes a system that matches his personnel and in many ways he’s the emotional leader of the team. Friedman cites a good example. A lot of coaches would have gone off on “Skategate” but Vigneault always places the focus on doing the things that lead to wins.
Mike Gillis has been praised for things like the Samuelson hiring, the Erhoff trade and for getting the team core signed at reasonable rates. He hasn’t received nearly enough credit for keeping a coach Dave Nonis hired. It would have been very easy to can Vigneault after Nonis was fired. If he had, the Canucks would have released one of the best coaches in the league.
Friedman goes on to deliver up a final comment of the Daniel Sedin goal that wasn’t:
Major cred to the NHL for releasing the “kicked-puck” DVD to HNIC. After watching it, though, I can’t understand how Daniel Sedin wasn’t given a goal in Game 3. Thankfully, it’s now a moot point.
First, I don’t get why Elliotte think the league deserves credit for releasing the DVD. In fact I think the league should routinely release information that reflects a new interpretation of the rules. Why wouldn’t the NHL want fans to know how this kind of play will be called?
Second, the point is now moot because the Canucks won the series, but it was moot as soon as the game was over. Even if it was the wrong call, nothing was going to change. To me, however, the issue is still relevant because the league stood behind Murphy and declared the call to be correct. The incident would be over in my mind if the league had announced that Murphy had a brain cramp and took seven minutes to make a mistake. I could live with that – unhappily – but I can’t live with the idea that the call was correct. If that is the case, I don’t understand the rule. If that is the case, I can’t have an opinion the next time a puck is banked in off a skate.
I don’t see why this is such a difficult issue. The only reason for the rule is safety – we can’t have players kicking at a puck in the crease during a scramble. Common sense tells me that unless there was something even remotely dangerous about the way Sedin got the puck into the net, the goal should stand.
Will Mike Murphy make the same call if the same play happens tonight in the Detroit-Phoenix game? I suspect not. I hope not. Will he make the same call if Jonathan Toews uses the same technique to direct a puck past Luongo on Friday night? Wouldn’t that make for a tangled (conspiracy) web? The league had better hope it doesn’t happen.