By Sunil Agnihotri
Hockey is back! Actual, NHL regular season games where teams are competing for a playoff spot. Will the Oilers compete for one of those spots? Sure, why not, it’s October! We’re still in the race!
We’re two games in, the Oilers are 2-0, with both wins coming against a division rival. The Oilers have scored 12 goals in just two games, with contributions from Maroon, Lucic, Kassian, Letestu...players across the depth chart are chipping in. McDavid already has six points, Draisatl has four, Eberle has three. Life is good.
Until they lose, we should probably ignore some of the defensive miscues, the individual and team possession numbers and Talbot’s performance. Just focus on the fact that we’re heading into the weekend on a two-game winning streak, the Flames are on a two-game losing streak, and that McDavid is healthy and killing it right now.
By Minnia Feng
Dear Matthew Tkachuk,
I hope you know that what you did on Wednesday night was rude af.
You're 18 years old, it's your first NHL game, and while I will never know what gave you the gall to selfishly, senselessly make not one or two, but three dangerous plays, one of which ended up badly injuring another human being, you need to understand that this is absolutely wrong and unsustainable.
My friend once told me a story about how in his freshman year, there was a rat problem in his dorm. One day he came back, exhausted, and when he got under the covers, he felt something squirming around in there. It was a rat. What an absolutely horrifying experience, and part of me hopes that happens to you tonight.
Acting tough is one thing. Playing with an edge to your game is fine. But recklessness, malice, and endangerment of others is completely unacceptable in this world, and that applies to behavior on and off the ice-- hockey is not an excuse to be a terrible human being. Because of your boneheaded decision to slewfoot a player who did not even engage you physically earlier in the play, as a form of retaliation for whatever bruising your peach-like ego sustained from being entangled with another Oiler earlier in the play, an individual has sustained significant injury and is unable to play the game you will continue to play tonight.
Boarding Kris Russell and taking a penalty was not enough. Slewfooting Brandon Davidson still wasn't enough. You had to end the night with a completely unnecessary high hit on Adam Larsson. Why? Seriously, why?
You have a history of doing this, too. This play from just a month ago is disgusting.
But clearly, because nothing happened except for a two-minute minor, you thought it would be okay to continue these antics and endanger the wellbeing of others. Lacking self control is one thing, but when the league continually lets these small actions with ill intent go without any action, it sends a message that it's rather okay, until something really big happens and reactionary punishment is taken. At that point, though, the damage has been done-- the concussion that impairs a player's quality of life for decades to come has already happened, and no amount of punishment will reverse that damage. We've seen far too many examples of this in the past -- Steve Moore, Eric Lindros, Paul Kariya-- sickening stories of when the nefarious side of sports spills over into real life.
What's particularly disturbing about what you did is it was not even close to accidental-- really, who are you to take someone's feet from under them unsuspectingly, and hold their head down for a good couple more seconds after the deed, when they are clearly hurting? I'm not even talking about your age, or that this is your first NHL game, or that you have no idea how much the individual you are holding down ruthlessly has gone through to get to this point in his career. As a human being, would you do this to another guy on the street, to take his feet out, watch him fall, and pin him down, when he has done absolutely nothing to you?
It's exactly this type of behavior that is unacceptable and endangers the future of the game. Young players like you, blue chip prospects who are supposed to lead the next generation, should be taking the tragic examples of the past few decades to heart and setting a better example, not aspiring to physically harm more people. You are a good hockey player who brings value simply through playing the actual game of hockey-- there is no need to engage in such despicable behavior.
At some point, the League needs to take responsibility for players who continually show an inability to consider the physical wellbeing of others. Your players are your most valuable assets; what kind of company would let an employee who continually puts others in harm's way roam freely with no discipline or action taken, until it's too late? Brandon Davidson has already been injured in the first regular season game Tkachuk has played. Is the NHL waiting for a bigger name player to be injured before you discipline him? What kind of message does that send about the disparity in value you place on different players' health and wellbeing? Make an example of this kid so everyone knows this type of behavior is absolutely not tolerated in today's NHL.
And as for Matthew Tkachuk, you'd be smart to clean up your act now before someone does to you what you so recklessly do to others.
By Ryan Batty
Look, I get it, the NHL is a business and there are times when the business side is going to take precedent over what the average fan is looking for or is interested in, but when you decide to drop the puck on a weeknight game at a quarter-to-nine you've probably gone just a little too far. That the ridiculously late start turned out to be almost completely unnecessary only serves to make the whole thing situation even more annoying.
Ultimately though, it's not the start time that bothers me the most though, and that really did bother me, it's that the people who paid for tickets to the game were given almost no notice, leaving them in a position to scramble and revise plans at the last minute. That's a pretty crappy way to treat the fans who have been unbelievably faithful to an organization that has iced some of the worst teams in recent memory over the last decade.
If you want to start at game at 8:45 that's your choice, but if you're going to do that don't tell people that the game starts 8:00 and just assume that the 18,000 people who bought tickets will be okay with it. I know I don't have to attend any hockey games, that I make that choice, but I make that choice with the information provided to me just like every other fans does, and ignoring, or worse not caring, how a change like this affect those fans is just plain ugly.