Seven Degrees of Participation

May 10, 2010

Controversy About the Conspiracy

Filed under: SPORTS — Alan M @ 1:42 pm










by Alan Meranda

Let’s be clear about one thing. I am a Detroit Red Wings fan and have been since 1970. I have followed hockey from that perspective for a long time. One of my buddies Dave Maerten is an equally rabid  Montreal Canadians fan. His post season hockey happiness continues and mine has ended.

The idea that a conspiracy against the continued success of the Detroit Red Wings is considered to be wrong. I disagree and want to point out some things that are solid facts to support a conspiracy against the Detroit Red Wings. The bottom line in any conspiracy is motivation and or purpose.

The Wings are a storied and successful hockey franchise, probably one of the best if not the best.  Now to say that the Wings were jobbed in the playoff series loss to the San Jose Sharks is not that far-fetched.

Most obvious was the way the playoff games were officiated. Yes there were missed calls on both sides. There were many “phantom” calls as well. To me the trick isn’t to make or not make a call against your team. It’s to make or not make calls that influence your team to leave the style of play that makes them most successful.

The Wings lost the first game against the Coyotes in the first round of playoffs. It was a physical and intimidating style of play that the Coyotes brought to the Wings. The Red Wings since the end of the Olympics were one of the best teams playing. The Red Wings responded to the fierce and feisty play of the Coyotes and eventually won in seven games. The odd thing about this series was that the officials were not calling penalties as often as the letter of the rules seemed to indicate.

The play of the Detroit Red Wings against the Sharks was now shifted by the officiating from not calling penalties to being blatantly anal about what they were calling as penalties. Mike Babcock, head coach of the Detroit Red Wings is a terrific coach. Babcock knows hockey, has a team that plays hockey as a team and as a team doesn’t need individual heroics to win games. Babcock has continued the legacy of winning hockey in Detroit.

It wasn’t the coaching. The play of the Wings was strange at times. Losing face-offs, having players removed from the face-off circle and the Wings being able to play their game based on what and how the officials were calling penalties. One of the tenets of playing hockey is adapting. The Wings proved that they could do that in the first round of the playoffs. The Red Wings have sharp talented players. All of this amounts to the enigmatic question: Was this some sort of conspiracy?

Let’s approach this from the usual suspect: Gary Bettman, Commissioner of the National Hockey League.  Granted this is the National Hockey League and the money just isn’t there for a quality person to lead the NHL. Bettman has proved to be arrogant, belligerent, ignorant of the history of the NHL and incapable of growing let alone maintaining the status of hockey as a sport. Now let’s contrast Bettman with not one person, but an organization that turned itself around from being one of the worst in the sport to one of the best. Yes folks, the Detroit Red Wings. The spirit of winning hockey is with the Detroit Red Wings. The players are winners, the management is winning and ultimately all of Michigan wins because of the quality and excellence that is the Detroit Red Wings as an organization.

What has Bettman decided to do to improve hockey? In general all of his lame maneuvers have seemingly been indirect attacks on the successful hockey as implemented by the Detroit Red Wings.

The Wings were moved to the Western Conference, displacing them from direct competition against their Original Six compatriots. The Original Six teams made hockey happen. This evidences Bettman’s ignorance for the history of hockey.

Bettman due to his lack of vision caused financial disruption and the collapse of many hockey organizations. Rather than citing all the teams forced to be sold to different ownership and moved to different cities to survive, Bettman’s failed fix was a salary cap to generate financial solvency for the entire league. The end result of this was a diluted talent pool, a dubious new “Great One” of hockey in Sid Crosby, amoral interpretation of the rules of hockey play in the playoffs to create Stanley Cup match-ups to bolster television audience numbers. And yes, the winning ways of hockey as applied successfully by the Detroit Red Wings suffered from all of this.

It’s not a conspiracy. It’s the incompetence of Gary Bettman that has soiled hockey and ultimately the pleasures of the Detroit Red Wing hockey fans.


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