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Deane McRobie

Ottawa vs. Detroit: Another Blown Call

On Kevin Pollock, Colin Campbell and the opinions of Kerry FraserNational Hockey League officiating continues to confuse. This week’s most perplexing decision came Wednesday night as the Ottawa Senators played host to the Detroit Red Wings, edging out Jordan Staal’s non-suspension for the week’s honours. The game was not expected to be close, as Ottawa’s eventual loss tied the franchise record for the longest losing streak and in anticipation, not one member of the Ottawa Citizen’s prediction panel predicted a Senators victory. Johan Franzen stole the show, and deservedly so, and Milan Michalek put forward another exceptional effort to add to a recent collection of games good enough to perhaps convince Ottawa fans that the Dany Heatley trade was not a complete debacle.But as underdogs occasionally do, the Senators opened the scoring early in the first period.  The Red Wings were quick to respond, but in a game in which momentum seemed a temporary condition, the first period ended with a 3-2 Ottawa lead, and both teams were tied at 4 goals apiece after the second. The game was an unusually entertaining one for the audience at Scotiabank Place this season; a chronically underachieving Senators squad managed to keep pace with a team good enough to lose Pavel Datsyuk to injury and still be among the league’s best.It was in the third period that the officiating soured what could have otherwise been a terrific game for either side, regardless of the outcome. After the Red Wings jumped out to a 6-5 lead with twelve minutes remaining in the contest, the Senators responded with the strong play of a team which might not have given up on an unfortunate season quite yet. A scramble around the net resulted in Chris Neil poking a loose puck past a sprawling Jimmy Howard, followed… Read More

Phil Kessel: A Day in the Strife

The trade that sent Kessel to Toronto has been analyzed ad nauseum, but until all players involved in the swap have at least been drafted, objective opinion can fall on either side of the debate. Using the ISS’s mid-season rankings as a rough guide in predicting the return on the remaining first-round pick, the Kessel trade will have netted the Bruins Tyler Seguin, Jared Knight and Ryan Strome. Seguin’s rookie year has turned out more like Joe Thornton’s or Vincent Lecavalier’s than Sidney Crosby’s or Matt Duchene’s, and Knight is still in the minors; until the dust settles, Kessel remains the best player involved in the trade.But as the dust settles, it may already be time for the Toronto Maple Leafs to re-evaluate Kessel’s position with the organization. I do not mean the 2009 trade; it is important to distinguish between what could have been done and what still can be done. The trade is part of hockey history, not hockey news. There is nothing left for Leafs’ management to do about what might develop into an exorbitant initial cost for the team; for Leafs fans to hold Kessel to the value of his trade cost is yet another instance of Leafs Nation’s neurotically self-destructive behaviour, as Kelly McParland noted in this Monday’s National Post. The trade was Burke’s, not Kessel’s, and it does the player, the franchise and the fans no favours to pick away at the player because of his controversial acquisition.As a consequence of the circumstances surrounding his arrival, Leafs fans & the Toronto media tend to evaluate Kessel more on opportunity cost than on present value, despite the fact that his present value stands to be irreparably damaged by such a focus on opportunity cost. Cost aside, there are few assets more valuable in pro hockey… Read More

Senators recap: Ottawa 5 @ Toronto 6

The Ottawa Senators met the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre for this season's first episode of the Battle of Ontario. The Maple Leafs outshot the Senators 35-32, but most of the game was more lopsided than that stat would suggest; the Senators trailed 4-0 after 40 minutes, and 5-1 after 50.The Senators opened the game well before remembering that Nail Yakupov hasn’t even been drafted yet, the ACC booed Daniel Alfredsson in a fit of Orwellian hysteria that intensifies each year for no apparent reason, and goals by Mikhail Grabovski and Phil Kessel put the Leafs up 2-0 before the first intermission.The second period was no better for the Sens and no worse for the Leafs. Dion Phaneuf’s shoulder welcomed rookie Stephane Da Costa to the NHL; Brayden Schenn’s older brother (Luke, is it?) jumped Chris Neil, Neil showed him why you don’t jump Chris Neil, before the refs reminded everyone that it’s okay to jump a player if it’s Chris Neil; Joffrey Lupul capitalized on the ensuing power play, putting the Buds up 3-0; and Sergei “Kovalev” Gonchar left Craig Anderson to the wolves as Kessel, scoring his second goal of the night, made the game 4-0 before the second intermission.Anderson, with a shining 5.40 GAA in his first two games (by little fault of his own, however) did not return to the Senators’ crease for the third period; Alex Auld took his place.Two minutes in, on a give-and-go deep in the Leafs’ zone, Gonchar set up Greening for James Reimer’s first goal-against of the season. In response, Colton “Not Bobby” Orr scored his first goal in 39 games.There is seldom hope for a team trailing 5-1 with 10 minutes left in the game. But seldom, too, does a line-up boast not only Alfredsson but also… Read More

SOTU Reveals Humbled Obama

President Obama’s third annual speech to a joint session of Congress, and second State of the Union address, was delivered on Tuesday night before a dramatically altered congressional landscape. The President’s speech in February 2009 was given amidst a recent election’s residual wave of popular appeal while Americans collectively spiralled into the darkest stretch of the Great Recession. His address in 2010 was delivered in an environment suggestive of the Year of the Tea Party; the common tide of collective admiration had turned to one of frustration and antipathy. While the immediate audience remained overwhelmingly Democratic, Obama’s magic had ostensibly dissipated as American politics polarized to a degree seldom seen since Colfax. The 2010 State of the Union address was given during a desperate and divisive battle over healthcare policy. American politics were suffering through a dearth of thoughtful rhetoric and civility – a period formally ushered in by Joe Wilson’s appalling interruption in a similar setting just four months prior. The President’s annus horribilis was spent swimming against the current of popular opinion while he pushed for healthcare reforms that too few Americans supported, let alone adequately understood.  Dusting himself off after a November one assumes he would sooner forget, a newly rearranged Congress heard a 2011 State of the Union address marked by a humbled and cooperative approach.The one perennial constant was the flaccidity of the Republicans’ response. Nowhere to be seen this time around was Bobby Jindal, whose insultingly simple address to the American people both set the intellectual tone for the Tea Party movement and consigned a rising star in the G.O.P. to convenient obscurity. In 2010, Bob McDonnell’s response was an improvement over the previous year’s embarrassment, but once again highlighted the Republicans’ choreographed obstinacy and lack of emerging leadership. Last night’s response from across… Read More