SUN Hockey Pool

Not in Canada, eh? Say it ain't so, Joe

ERIN NICKS

, Last Updated: 7:44 AM ET

If you're to believe conventional wisdom, Canada is the best place to achieve that all-around quality NHL experience. Following, covering, playing -- it doesn't matter. The general consensus is Canada trumps all.

But not everyone subscribes to this theory. Joe Corvo certainly didn't, and he made sure everyone knew it after he was sent packing this week.

The former Senator blueliner was part of a four-player trade that saw the 30-year-old shipped to Carolina along with winger Patrick Eaves. In return, the Sens received some much-needed grit in the form of defenceman Mike Commodore, as well as veteran top-six forward Cory Stillman.

Corvo was often the subject of criticism and it took various forms -- constructive, pointed or mocking, the Illinois-born player took a heaping dose of flak during his time in Ottawa. The inconsistent play in his own zone regularly served as a catalyst for the barbs, and his inability to maintain a confident outlook seemed obvious, both on the ice and during interviews.

Given these facts, it wasn't surprising to hear Corvo express his displeasure during his first encounter with the media in his new Raleigh-based home.

And he didn't mince words.

While speaking with reporters from the News & Observer, the defenceman indicated that his interest in leaving Ottawa was partially driven by his family's desire to move back to the U.S., but "had more to do with the small-town attitude that surrounded the team and the nature of the criticism," according to the newspaper's hockey blog.

"It's hard to understand if you haven't played in Canada," Corvo said. "The (Ottawa) media at times can be completely ridiculous, the way they can take some of the stories that are nothing and make something out of them."

To be fair, ridiculousness is prevalent to some degree in all aspects of sports media. But, while Corvo's comments may have been directed at Ottawa, they do bring up a disheartening query for Canadian fans: How many NHLers wish to play for American teams simply to avoid the likes of you and me?

Being an NHL player in Canada is akin to living in a goldfish bowl. From reporters pestering them for quality quotes to fans interrupting dinners in restaurants for a chat, their lives are never private. We expect everything and more from them because: a) they play the nation's favourite sport and b) they are professional athletes -- they're supposed to deal with it.

But how much is too much?

It requires gumption to tolerate the constant attention and many have claimed Corvo was too high-strung to deal with the day-to-day grind in Canada.

That being said, I'm reminded of the period post-lockout when everyone was wondering where Scott Niedermayer would end up and I spoke to one of his closest friends on the condition of anonymity. He told me how "(Niedermayer) would cherish the privacy and low-key coverage that a city like Anaheim could offer".

The veteran defenceman signed with the Ducks not long afterward. How often is Niedermayer accused of being thin-skinned?

The U.S. may be criticized for its indifference toward the sport, yet it provides the perfect foil for players seeking a quiet life despite being in the public eye. And based on the media's obsessive coverage in this country, it's not hard to understand that mode of thinking.

Corvo was constantly disparaged during his tenure as a Senator, and while some of that was often warranted, some of the potshots taken were unnecessary. The spotlight in Canada was too bright, and he desired the shelter of a quieter American franchise. It's surely for the best.

Maybe Corvo was too sensitive for us. Maybe we were too emotional for him. Regardless, you can't help but think that many NHL players might relate to his complaint.


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