No justice for Canucks

The Vancouver Canucks, down 2-0 in their playoff series against L.A., still don't know when or if...

The Vancouver Canucks, down 2-0 in their playoff series against L.A., still don't know when or if Daniel Sedin will be available to them. (REUTERS)

Steve Simmons, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:09 PM ET

The final result of the damage from Duncan Keith’s flying elbow on Daniel Sedin may not be known for a very long time.

But no matter how you attempt to balance crime and punishment in the National Hockey League, there is no way to find anything resembling justice or fairness for Sedin, the troubled Canucks, and for Vancouver hockey fans in this most difficult time of year.

For the record, Keith is back on the Chicago blueline after losing five meaningless regular season games to suspension. That was his sentence for the intentional head shot. Sedin hasn’t made an appearance in the two Vancouver losses to Los Angeles, didn’t travel to California for Games 3 and 4 of the first round series, and may not play the rest of the series or season, which could be one and the same for the Canucks.

And while it’s impossible to equate the loss of one player — even if it’s Vancouver’s leading goal scorer — for the terrible playoff performance of the Canucks it is certainly a significant factor. The Canucks lost Friday night, ostensibly because of two shorthanded goals by Dustin Brown. Daniel Sedin leads the Canucks in power play goals scored, is second in power play points, and Vancouver had the fourth best power play in the NHL.

Keith changed all that with one elbow. It didn’t hurt his team in any real way. But it may have altered the Western Conference playoff look completely.

And where’s the justice in that?

THIS AND THAT

So let’s be clear about this: Brian Burke is sticking with the plan that Larry Tanenbaum backs but coach Randy Carlyle says the plan hasn’t been formulated yet. Do these people talk to each other? ... The NHL Draft Lottery needs a remake, despite the enormous television numbers. It would be much more fun, more exciting, if all teams out of the playoffs could make moves, up or down, and not just to the No. 1 spot ... And the owner of the worst team in all of pro sports is: Michael (7-50) Jordan ... The Philadelphia Flyers traded away Mike Richards and Jeff Carter because they didn’t believe they could succeed with them. And the Flyers are up 2-0 on Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Kings, who traded first for Richards, later for Carter, are also up 2-0. It’s a long long shot, and seven weeks away, but wouldn’t Philadelphia-Los Angeles make for a fascinating Stanley Cup final? ... My view of Tim Thomas is no different than my view of The Iron Sheik. Don’t care for their politics but admire them as performers ... OK, so I’m not the smartest man on earth, but why is Brett Lawrie trying to steal home with the bases loaded and Jose Bautista — even a struggling version — at the plate? Anyone?

HEAR AND THERE

With the fifth pick in the NHL Draft the Maple Leafs select, from Sarnia of the Ontario Hockey League, centre Alex Galchenyuk. That’s the fantasy pick here. A 6-foot-2 centre who reminds some people of Ron Francis. If Sweden’s Filip Forsberg is gone, and he should be, Galchenyuk is the pick ... Memo to nhl.com, the NHL’s website: Claude Giroux is a centre. He’s been playing centre all season long. He scored six points doing it Friday night. And why are you still listing him as a right winger on Saturday? ... Dustin Pedroia is calling Henderson Alvarez a “King Felix reincarnate” as in Felix Hernandez. Would that make him the second Junior Felix in Blue Jays history? ... I know Claude Loiselle has interest in the general manager’s job with the Montreal Canadiens. But how does the Toronto executive make a case for himself after all that’s gone on with the Leafs ... Yes, it was the father, Tommy Sedin, who told a reporter that his son, Daniel, wouldn’t start against Los Angeles. And to think, no one from the sometimes nasty Vancouver front office called the reporter a scumball for calling the parent.

SCENE AND HEARD

There is a movement being pushed by some NHL general managers that won’t allow teams to “bury” contracts in the minor leagues in the future, the way the Leafs have done with Jeff Finger or Colton Orr or the Rangers with Wade Redden. And if that goes through in the next collective bargaining agreement, it will mean the Leafs have $15.75 million already committed next season in Mike Komisarek, Matthew Lombardi, Colby Armstrong and Tim Connolly, who were a combined minus-54 and are virtually unmovable in any trade ... Lindy Ruff used to quietly complain he wasn’t on the radar for national coaching jobs with Team Canada. Then he got offered the Team Canada world championship job and turned it down. You can’t have it both ways. Either you want in or you don’t. And not on your own terms ... Must do Mike Babcock proud to see his former assistants, Paul MacLean in Ottawa and Todd McLellan in San Jose, doing so well as NHL head coaches ... Best of health wishes to Olympic writer Randy Starkman, whose road to London has come upon difficult times ... Get well soon, Vin Scully. We need you back on Dodgers games ... Took a peek at my pre-season predictions for the NHL and again demonstrated why none of us should ever embarrass ourselves this way: I had Florida 15th in the Eastern Conference just behind Ottawa in 14th. For the record, I did take all kinds of grief for picking the Leafs 11th ... You think of Adam Graves and Peter DeBoer as class people so I don’t understand how the owners of the Oshawa Generals announced they had fired their coach, Gary Agnew, without first telling him.

BABYING THE JAYS

 

The Blue Jays clubhouse is about the size of a city block, only better decorated and more spread out. You could probably hold a wedding reception or a party there, if need be. Yet post-game, on most days and nights, it is full of cameras and reporters and pens and pencils, all huddled together, but almost devoid of ballplayers to talk to. For whatever reason, the Jays have adopted the post-game hiding policy which is what you normally get from the Maple Leafs after a bad loss. Why these new, fresh, out there, Jays aren’t front and centre post-game is anyone’s guess. But as I stood in the empty clubhouse the other afternoon, after an impressive win, I was taken back to 1983, when the Edmonton Oilers were swept in their first Stanley Cup final by the New York Islanders. Post-game, there wasn’t an Oiler in the dressing room when in walked coach Glen Sather. He saw the empty room, turned to the reporters and declared that all parts of the room were now open. “Nobody’s hiding here,” said Sather. “Nobody.”

FINDING A GOALIE

Of the 16 goaltenders starting in the Stanley Cup playoffs, at least five of them were available over the past few years and most of them on the cheap. And why does that matter? It matters because the Maple Leafs are once again on the prowl for a goalie and the assumption is they have to go expensive to get it right. Nobody thought much last summer when the Phoenix Coyotes and Florida Panthers signed Mike Smith and Jose Theodore to play goal. Yet Smith, at $2 million a year and Theodore at $1.5 have done more than fine. Craig Anderson was available last year and the Ottawa Senators took advantage. Colorado got terrific play this season from J.S. Giguere, who left Toronto, took a $5.8 million pay cut, and did his job with the Avalanche. Finding the right goalie, away from the obvious stars like Henrik Lundqvist and Pekka Rinne, is usually as much a matter of good fortune as it is good scouting. All St. Louis paid for Jaroslav Halak was Lars Eller and Ian Schultz. They signed Brian Elliott for $600,000. There are goalies to be found. Just a matter of finding one.

THE TYSON LEGACY

The longer Mike Tyson is retired, the better his boxing career becomes. He’s not alone that way. All kinds of professional athletes are appreciated or recognized differently once they’re finished playing and I got to thinking about that after reading Steve Buffery’s excellent three-part series on the former heavyweight champion. Never mind his legal difficulties and his social problems, what bothers me about Tyson’s overblown reputation is what he actually accomplished in the ring. His greatest victory was against ... who? He didn’t fight George Foreman or Riddick Bowe or many of the top heavyweights of his time. He lost to Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield (twice) and yes, to Buster Douglas. There was no Leonard to his Hagler, no super fight to remember. No doubt, Tyson was vicious and powerful and intimidating, but where were the great fights, the great opponents, the memorable battles? They didn’t happen.

AND ANOTHER THING

The fact the Pittsburgh Penguins have had the NHL’s scoring champ in 14 of the past 26 seasons is somewhat stunning — especially when you consider that 17 teams have never had a scoring champion even once. The last Leaf to lead the NHL in scoring: Gord Drillon in 1938. The last Ranger: Bryan Hextall in 1942 ... Did you know that every scoring champion post lockout has been a Top 3 pick in the NHL Draft ... “I’m coming home, I’m coming home. Tell the world...” Can’t get that damn song out of my head ... When Alex Rodriguez was a rookie in Seattle, he played alongside Ken Griffey Jr. On Friday, he tied Griffey Jr. for fifth on the all-time home run list, hitting his 630th. Ahead of ARoid now: Some names you might know. Willie Mays, Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds ... So who gets traded first? Rick Nash or Jarome Iginla? And for what? ... There’s not a mock draft out there that doesn’t have Kentucky’s Anthony Davis being picked first in the NBA Draft. But if the Raptors don’t come away with Davis, his Kentucky teammate Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or Thomas Robinson of Kansas, will there be another future star left in the NBA Draft? ... Happy birthday to Ilya Kovalchuk (29), Kevin Lowe (53), Aaron Laffey (27), Evelyn Ashford (55), Keith Acton (54), Tim Tindale (41) and Kevin Stevens (47) ... And hey, whatever became of Darren Puppa?

steve.simmons@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/simmonssteve

 


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