Sunday, May 1st, 2016

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.

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3 Responses to “On Vigneault and Skategate”
  1. Kel says:

    And I think the league should immediately take out some words of Rule 39.2 section: “with a pendulum motion”. After the call on Ottawa, I think I know how the rule has been changed, I mean, re-interpreted, if they consistently call back similar goals. Basically the new interpretation is one where a goal is disallowed if they determine that it is propelled into the net by the skate. If the puck changed direction by more than 90 degrees and the skate was moving towards the net, it’s disallowed. In other words, pucks that were moving away from the net but went in after hitting a moving skate are not considered goals.

  2. Tom says:

    MacKenzie explained it sort of the same way. The emphasis now being on the word propel and not on the distinct kicking motion. I wondered whether that meant it was a no goal call even if Sedin had not “twisted a toe”.

    Its crazy to change the interpretation in the middle of a season. Its crazy not to tell the fans – and the media – about the re-interpretation before it actually affects a call. Finally, its crazy to re-interpret the rule if the effect is to reduce the number of scores without really gaining anything.

    Why did the league make this decision? The only real benefit seems to be to make it an easier call. The irony here is that they either blew it on the ice or in Toronto. Why didn’t they wave it off right away given the new interpretation?

  3. Roberto says:

    He hasn’t received nearly enough credit for keeping a coach Dave Nonis hired.

    From descriptions in the media, and by Vigneault’s own admission, Gillis put Vigneault through what was essentially an extensive interview process before keeping him on as coach. So Gillis did in fact hire Vigneault, after a fashion.

    I was pretty skeptical of the Nonis firing/Gillis hiring at the time. It appeared that we had a meddling owner on our hands, and a likely puppet manager, returning us to the Gong Show days of the 70s and 80s. It is extremely gratifying as a fan to be proven wrong in this respect. Gillis has shown himself to be a diligent, thorough manager, a shrewd judge of talent, and his judgment appears little clouded by sentiment. He has even taken steps to ameliorate the effects of Tom’s favourate bugaboo – travel – on the team’s performance. What’s not to like?

    As for the re-interpretation of the rule, I’m with Tom. I see no advantage for the NHL in calling it this way. Don’t they want more goals?

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