Saturday, February 5, 2011

Hey, I know, let's get all our star players on the injured reserve list at the same time.

The games: Anaheim vs. Colorado (2/5), Pittsburgh vs. Buffalo (2/4).

This is not good: Jonas Hiller is not in the net, due to fatigue and lightheadedness, according to the team.

This is really, really not good: Evgeni Malkin, as many had predicted, has a serious knee injury. His ACL and MCL are torn. I'm not a doctor, but I'm pretty sure that tearing any body part that ends in CL is not good.

The Portland Winterhawks are in a bit of an injury rut as well: Team Captain Brett Ponich underwent surgery on his left knee Thursday. Oliver Gabriel is out for the season due to shoulder surgery. More painful than the injuries is that because they will both be overagers next season and have signed with their NHL teams, it is unlikely we'll see either of them on our ice again. One game, one injury and they are done. Just like that. And just like the NHL, no one is invincible. But it is particularly hard in this case, because Brett came to Portland at an all-time low with the team, and finally, this year we are in an ideal position to contend for the Memorial Cup. While Brett will no doubt provide other forms of leadership, the likelihood it will be of the on-ice variety is very small. And Oliver is one of the team's best underdog stories. He wasn't drafted in his eligible year, got invited to the Columbus Blue Jackets' training camp in 2010, and ended up signing with them. No one is more deserving of a chance to lift very large shiny objects than Brett and Oliver. And so they shall, if the team continues winning like they are now. I find in general that early hardship in life means one of two things: 1) great character and success later in life because you learn the lesson and you survive it well, or, 2) you keep going down the rabbit hole because you don't handle it well. I've met Brett and Oliver, and for them, I'm all in for option 1.

Speaking of winning, you can read all about Portland's late game heroics against Edmonton here: Hint: it involves a strong first period, a slightly lazy second period, and a reinvigorated third period, during which two empty net goals were scored in 17 seconds. Look for more ice time and goals from Seth Swenson, who scored last night for the first time this season. Or if you are his teammate Nino Niederreiter, with his very cool Swiss-German accent, Seth Svenson.

Ok, this is just creepy: I'm up to the Article in the Collective Bargaining Agreement about injured reserve lists. 16.11, Injured Reserve List:

(a) A Club may place a player on the Injured Reserve List if such player is reasonably expected to be injured, ill or disabled and unable to perform his duties as a hockey player for a minimum of seven days from the onset of such injury, illness or disability. It goes on to explain that if the player continues to be injured or ill at the time training camp starts, he will still be eligible to be placed on the list.

(c) To paraphrase: Players on the Injured Reserve List may travel with the team, attend team meetings, participate in practice sessions with the active roster. They may also have access to the team's training and medical facilities during regular business hours, but the team may restrict their access during times when the active roster is expected to be there, and for reasonable periods of time before and after that.

(d) Once a player is placed on the Injured Reserve List, the Club can replace him with another player, but he doesn't count against the player's active roster. However, the injured player and his replacement's salary and bonuses both count against the team's actual club salary and averaged club salary.

Morals of the story:

The game: Of course the money counts, and the player doesn't. The NHL is still a business after all. And who wants to hobble to team meetings on their crutches or in bandages and braces and what not, only to be kicked out when the active roster shows up? Injured reserve makes it sound like you're still important to the team, but according to this rule, you're not.

Life: This is a bit like the laws that govern work-related injuries and disabilities. Theoretically it should protect you long enough to let you rehab the injury, and not encourage you to take advantage. While there are some people who truly didn't mean to hurt themselves and just got unlucky, there are also those who scam the system and take advantage, hurting everyone in the process. Pity is, a lot of the time the people who really want to get back to work can't and the ones who are scamming don't want to work.

Therefore, with our new government taking power, I suggest a new system whereby we follow the NHL injured reserve list rule, which does have a provision for discipline by the commissioner if he feels the team has taken advantage of the rule. Kinda like he did when Jersey circumvented the salary rule. Of course all that means is that Kovalchuk makes two million dollars less for two years less. On the other hand, they are losing talent because he is eating their salary cap, so there is still punishment. But still, some discipline is better than no discipline.

Next up: 16.12, Non Roster Player.

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