4 Things That Don’t Matter in the NHL This Week: Dry Scrapes, Phil Kessel and Reporters, Connor McDavid Debates, and Canucks Losses

by Kolby Solinsky

Editor, White Cover Magazine


This job’s hard sometimes.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s not really, truly hard or anything. I’m not breaking brick, forking a field for minimum wage, or taking orders from King Joffrey. But it’s difficult to pretend to care, basically all the time, about stuff like the Canucks. Or the NHL. Or whatever, anything like that.

And into the middle of November, we’re all just trying. The nights are longer, the air is colder, and your bed is so much warmer. So here’s to another wasted week spent trying to draw answers and conclusions out of an NHL season that’s too young to matter just yet.

The Ice Scrape Thing

So, the NHL has decided to scrap the scrape, meaning overtime won’t be preceded by that thing the Zambonis do where they drag they skirt around and smooth out the rink’s surface… you know, like your dog does on your carpet when it’s got an itchy butt.

The reason? It’s not to do with the time of the thing or anything practical, but the NHL was hoping the ‘dry scrape’ would prevent games from heading to shootouts all the time. Who know if it was working or wasn’t. Because the league imposed a rule to prevent shootouts, which the league implemented in 2005, and now realizes it’s basically enforcing rules to fight rules it’s already institutionalized, and… okay, the NHL doesn’t know what it’s doing. Sort of like when that Republican Senator said windmills were slowing down the wind and could cause global warming. Let’s just guess and guess and legislate and guess some more.

And meanwhile, shootouts are still here. Even though the NHL has committed to putting in rules to get rid of them. They could just take out shootouts. But no, because, that would be real work.

And this isn’t real work. The ‘dry scrape’ is a phony problem. It was a phony solution. It’s a make-work project, a way to fill the hours without picking up the phone.

Sort of like when you say you’re busy and you then spend the next two hours deleting your old emails and organizing your desktop.

Anyway, they’re now going to have the sled girls do the pre-OT scrape. And you can decide whether that’s appropriate for different reasons.

The Phil Kessel Thing

So when you get bored, you tend to shoehorn little things into stories. Like how Phil Kessel didn’t speak to the media after one awful loss to Buffalo last Saturday. Should he have been available for questioning? Yes, of course. Would it have been annoying, to have been one of those locker flies holding an empty microphone? Yeah, duh. You were told to get your quotes and file before deadline, and you probably wanted Kessel – Toronto’s best player – to answer for his team’s flattening.

So, you’re upset. But, can’t we be human about this? Does it really matter, at the end of the day, that one seemingly very friendly superstar took a night off?

He already failed on the ice. If anything, he was just being consistent off it.

The Connor McDavid Thing

Give Sidney Crosby some credit, and your ears.

Not only is he the only guy in the NHL who’s been where phreakin’ phenom Connor McDavid is now – the 17-year-old McDavid is known as ‘the next Crosby’ while Crosby was known as ‘the next Gretzky’, even though Wayne was six years retired when Sid was drafted in 2005 – but he’s also the only guy who seems to understand that McDavid makes McDavid’s decisions.

(ICYMI: The Erie Otters star suffered a broken hand a week and a bit ago after holding his own in fight against Bryson Cianfrone, and will be out anywhere from four to six weeks.)

“It’s tough. I mean, you don’t necessarily want to see him fight, I know that’s not his job, but sometimes… I’m sure he’s got a target on his back, and it’s not easy sometimes. It’s one of those flukey things.

“No matter how many times you’ve done it, even if you talk to guys who’ve fought for years, anything can happen in a fight and you really have to be careful.”

So basically, yeah, McDavid shouldn’t be out there throwing his gloves around, looking for a fight. Because that’s not his job, after all.

But this was McDavid’s first-ever first, in the OHL at least. He wasn’t looking for a fight. He was just adding it to his resume. And he didn’t lose – far from it.

It’s a fluke, plain and simple. And if you want to tell McDavid he can’t ever drop the gloves, for fear of what might or might not happen to him, then you can’t have it the other way, either. You can’t cheer on Claude Giroux or Jamie Benn when they do the same, even though their NHL teams’ seasons depend on their health. And you know if McDavid hadn’t broken his hand, a nation of wannabe blue-collar hockey traditionalists would have had him on their shoulders, so to speak.

The Canucks Thing

Who thinks Vancouver’s 5-0 loss to Arizona on Sunday was its worst of the season?

If you raised your hand, you’re not alone. But was it worse than the 6-3 smacking in Dallas? Or the 7-3 beatdown in Colorado? I don’t know, and I don’t think it matters.

Because Vancouver’s worst loss this season – and there haven’t been many, which is surprising when you see the three above listed right beside each other – was that 5-1 humiliation at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings two weekends ago.

Sure, the Kings are the defending Stanley Cup champions. But that doesn’t make it better… that makes it more humbling. That makes it sobering. Instead of those spaced-out heroic wins over Anaheim or Montreal or even their epically entertaining loss to Tampa, and instead of the flukey one-off doughnut they pitched against the Coyotes, that loss in L.A. says more about how far this team is from contending than anything else has this season.

If the Canucks needed to be reminded of how low they were just a few months ago, in case they forgot how quickly and heavily they collapsed last season after New Year’s, and in case they were unaware of how young this season still is, the Kings were there to prove it to them.

They were Iceland, running over Gordon Bombay’s island of misfit toys.

And seriously, why were Connie Moreau and Goldberg on that Ducks team? They did nothing.