Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Irony police (scroll down to the last paragraph):

The Buzz: Coaches have no power in the NHL; they can't even criticize players without feeling threatened over their employment.

The BACKHAND: Bunk. Detroit coach Mike Babcock publicly ripped into Dominik Hasek, arguably his best chance for winning a Stanley Cup this season, after Hasek took a dive Tuesday night in a game against Calgary. The refs did not blow the whistle on Hasek's dive, allowed play to continue, leading to Kristian Huselius burying the GWG over a flopped-out Dominator; thus costing the Red Wings two points and maybe even a shot at the President's Trophy in what is a wonderfully tight race for the top regular-season effort. Afterward, Hasek claimed "interference" but Babcock would have none of it and ripped into his star for perpetrating embellishment, something that goes on all to often in hockey.

Meanwhile, New York Islanders coach Ted Nolan dropped captain Alexei Yashin to the fourth line after Yashin lost Vinny Lecavalier of the Tampa Bay Lightning for a pivotal goal in a game with playoff implications for both teams. Said Nolan: "Whether it's our captain or not, you have to perform. At this time of the year, there are no excuses.

"He's been back (from injury) now for [six] games. Losing a guy on the second goal, that's inexcusable at this time of year. You can lose certain people, but we have to play with a certain urgency, with some grit, and whoever doesn't won't get too much ice time."

Hasek and Yashin both have a coach notched on the coach-killer list (ironically, it was Hasek who did in Nolan in Buffalo a decade ago). Hats off to Babcock and Nolan for refusing to demand anything less than what a player is paid to deliver.

Jim, I love ya as a hockey writer and wish you were still at the Buffalo News. But that's NOT irony. It's just a coincidence.

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