By Michael Felger
Id address the Randy-Moss-back-to-New-England story, but do I really have to? Didnt we spend all last autumn on that one? Check the archives. Please. Ive moved on to much more important topics.
Like counting Arizona Cardinals playoff victories . . .
Felger,I enjoy your work and really value your opinion, but your column on the NFL labor situation struck me as you being lazy as hell. When you started explaining the embarrassing Bidwill ownership of the Cardinals, you stated, "In the last 63 years under Bidwill family ownership, the Cards have won a grand total of three playoff games." Felgy, can you not count or are does whatever you write automatically go up on the site without editing? I mean we're not talking about Steelers or Cowboys playoff victories over the years, where I might understand where there could be a mistake in the numbers. But the Cardinals? Give me a break. I'm not a professional writer or editor but I picked up on it immediately as I was reading that paragraph. Let's do this together: Jake the Snake won a playoff game against Dallas in '98 and then the Cardinals won three playoff games to get the Super Bowl in '08. So 3 1 = 4. Fact, not opinion. DanNorthboro
Got it. Four playoff victories in 63 years. The ultimate winning machine.
Hey, Mike,You are right. The owners dont deserve any trust from anyone, especially from the players! However, dont you think that both owners and players owed it to us fans (who pay everyones salary, by the way) to continue negotiating? That they both owed it to their fans who make all their vast wealth possible to at least extend the deadline? I do. I think they owe us that much. I know the NFL is KING and sets viewing records every Sunday and Monday night, but if this pissing contest drags out like the MLB and NHL work stoppages of recent memory, please dont think for one second that what happened to those two leagues cant happen to them. It definitely can!KevinWoburn
Im glad the players sued. Get it over with. Both sides said the other didnt really want to get a deal done and I believe that applies more to the owners. With every extension the owners got, the longer they could extend lockout conditions (no one was getting signed, no one was getting traded, roster bonuses werent getting paid, etc.) without the bad PR associated without having to call it a lockout. The owners goal is not to get a deal right now; its to push the impasse as close to September as possible. Thats when the players game checks start coming in and when the owners have the best chance to break the union. Thats their leverage. The players leverage is the law (its likely to be on their side). So, like I said: get it over with.
Hey, Felger,So Ive been thinking long and hard about what will happen if there's no football this year. What will I do Sunday afternoons? Will I find something else to fill the time? And the ultimate question -- will I return to football in 2012, provided it comes back?Stunningly, I think the answer to that last question is . . . no. I won't. I think I can learn to live without my favorite sport. I think having Sundays "back" would be a tremendous boost to my family life and to my health. I think I could be more productive with house projects, and actually maybe spend more time with my wife (and future daughter).Maybe this makes me a fair-weather fan. I'm okay with that. I've never claimed to be otherwise. Bottom line: If the owners and players can't get this resolved before the summer, I will never forgive them. I don't think.(Of course, you can feel free to call me out as a fraud when I e-mail you in 2016 complaining about Mike Pouncey's critical holding call.)AndrewLeominster
Im not waiting until 2016, Andrew. And I say this with all due respect, but . . . you fraud! And so is anyone who promises a fan boycott or anything of the like. It aint going to happen. We will all be back when they start playing again. In droves. Were crack addicts and football is the rock. I wont miss a possession. Neither will you.
Felger,You know, Mike, I was watching that game last week and saw the hit on the Canadien. It was a two-minute penalty at best. Chara shouldn't be judged because of the severity of the injury. If two players fight and one guy knocks the crap out of the other, should the guy who won the fight be fined or, God forbid, ARRESTED? I watched the game last Thursday and saw the Sabres try to bully the Bruins. I say if the teams are going to do that, then let's rock and roll. Become the Big Bad Bruins again and push back, despite what others in the league might say. Give other teams a fear factor. I say let's roll with anybody who wants some. I usually despise everything you say and don't have the guts to call in, but, Mike, you had me pumping my fists in the car when you went at it with that jerk from Canada. I'm now a converted fan. Thanks.JoshBillerica
Just keep listening, Josh. Im sure Ill turn you back off in no time.
Felger, you DB!So did you see the anti-head shot protest in Montreal on Tuesday? I saw the turnout was a little sparse. At first I thought it was because maybe, possibly, there was a chance that some form of logical, rational thought had finally come over one of the most self-righteous, reactionary and hypocritical fan bases in all of sports. But then I read that by the time the Pacioretty protest took place, most Habs fans were either all tuckered out, or they were getting booked by the local gendarmes after a demonstration against police brutality became a demonstration of brutality against police. While people like Team 990s Tony "Muscles" Marinaro cater to callers claiming to have feared for their lives while describing a visit to Boston to watch a Habs-Bruins game, Montreal police were busy dispersing the very same fan base that looted and rioted after last years playoff victory against No. 2-seeded Pittsburgh in the second round. The same fan base that rioted after beating the No. 8 seeded Bruins in the first round of the 2008 playoffs. The same fan base that rioted after winning Stanley Cups in 1993 and 1986. The same fan base that rioted after Rocket Richard was suspended for the remainder of the season in 1955 for punching an official during a brawl. And this is just a list of the sports-related riots. Google the Bread riot, Sir George Williams University Computer Riot or Murry Hill Riot. The tradition of Les Habitants reveling in public destruction goes all the way back to 1849, when an angry mob torched Canada's Parliament in Montreal. So, in over a century-and-a-half Montreal hasnt been able to put the kibosh on civil mayhem, but Habs fans want the NHL to adopt a "play nice" policy overnight that even a Brookline helicopter parent would find excessive. Look, Boston will never be confused with Vatican City, but Id say youre probably safer next to a Bell Centre stanchion with Big Z bearing down on you than you are on St. Catherines Street. You stay classy, Montreal. Mike, Attleboro
You know what Im going to be curious to see, Mikey? Whether Pacioretty is truly done for the year. Wouldnt it be interesting if he wasnt?
Felger,Mike from Attleboro last week was pretty much dead on in his assessment of the Pacioretty hit, Habs fans, Montreal management and the penaltynon-suspension based on the rules. You're also right that there should be a suspension for riding someone into the "turnbuckle, only there's nothing in the rules to support it. Only five days before this hit, Lucic ran someone from Tampa Bay into the turnbuckle. Not a single complaint about it. Why? Because it's a legal hit and an accepted risk for the players. The CookeSavard rule was added to give the league some leeway in suspending players for head shots. The real problem for the league on this issue is that they clearly need to establish something regarding that area of the ice. It's pretty rare that guys get injured there, but it happens. (Didn't Lindros suffer a concussion hitting the turnbuckle?)Like the Cooke hit last year, the league had its hands tied, as there was nothing illegal about the hit other than a two-minute interference penalty. Like that situation, they should look to expand their rule book to cut down on dangerous hits in that area of the ice. It's too late to suspend Chara, but I think he'd take it to heart if a rule was implemented based on this hit . . . unlike Cooke, who has no regard for his fellow players.The players would adapt. And for those that would say we're trying to take hitting out of hockey, save your breath. There's still plenty of glass and open ice for crushing checks, which I certainly want to see continue.DanNashua, NH
I pretty much agree with all of this. I think a simple way to approach it would be to install something akin to the "defenseless receiver" rules in the NFL. Or invoking the intent-to-injure clause more often. It's obvious when guys are riding players into that turnbuckle. Its obvious when someone is lined up to get croaked. Use common sense. There was no rule against Cooke last year, but we all knew what he was doing. And dont fool yourself; Chara knew what he was doing, too. The NHL should stop going so by-the-book. Use some judgment. Again, do what the NFL has done.
Felger,I read with interest your mailbag of letters from Canadiens fans. I'm not surprised at the vitriol, and honestly, I doubt that you are either. How much bitter criticism did Boston fans send to Pittsburgh last year? Whether it's blameworthy or not, a serious and frightening injury will provoke this every time.I'm writing to draw your attention to a Quebecois blogger whose opinion is not homer-ish in the least (possibly because his writing normally focuses very tightly on new statistics). Instead of whining endlessly on about Chara's intent, or about the illogical whims of Bettman, Campbell, and Murphy, he poses a larger question: to what extent have the changing standards of calling the game made it riskier for players? (Answer: a great deal.)Look, I agree with this guy. Whether I blame Chara as an individual or not -- and of course I'm inclined not to, because he is on the team I love -- the NHL eventually has to start addressing life- and career-threatening injuries as a public health expert would, attempting to reduce the frequency of these incidents. Responding like a judge, by assigning degrees of culpability, hasn't made any improvement (except maybe in the temperature of talk radio chatter).But whether you agree with this guy or not, you should take note of the fact that there does exist at least one rational and well-spoken hockey fan in Quebec.Kate
Okay, so theres one. But I would venture to guess thats it.
Anyway, youre overall point is absolutely correct. Not sure fans have noticed, but the NHL is running out of players. A lot of the good ones are getting concussed. The league is on pace for 85 players to miss time with head injuries this season. They have to do something.
Felger,Why is there so much hate and anger from Montreal, even before the Chara hit? All fans have passion, but Canadien fans have hate and anger and never show any respect to anybody. They are the most disliked fan base in the NHL (maybe all of sports), and I think most would agree on that. They make Philly fans look sophisticated. It isn't even fun to watch games against them anymore because they are like little spoiled 16 year-olds who don't get their way on their birthday and cry about it.DavisCheshire
What, you believe that clogging police emergency lines with demands for a players arrest because of check in a hockey game is a little much? Whats wrong with you?
Felger,Im getting worried about this Bruins team now. Kaberle looks terrible and Thomas is getting a little scary. In March, Thomas is 1-3 with a GAA of 2.71, and in February he is 4-6 with a GAA of 2.74. And playing in some of these high intensity, playoff-like games, the forecheck has been ratcheted up and the Bs still cant handle it. The defensive structure has been out of whack, and I think its safe to say Seguin wont be in any important games (even though Ryder sat the other night; interesting, Claude just might be evolving). And lets not even talk about the PP because thats just embarrassing! David
The Bs are playing like crap right now. I dont think it changes the big picture, any more than the seven-game winning streak changed the fundamentals. They are a good team. Not a great one. With Kaberle and Peverley they should get out of the second round. If they dont, its a failure and someone has to lose their job.
Hey Felger,Since the Perkins trade, the Celtics have played 11 games. They are 7-4 in these games, with the four losses coming against not-great teams. The Clippers at home, at New Jersey . . . bad losses. They also havent played any of the league's best during this stretch either. Are you at all concerned with the Celtics and their ability to gel with the new faces and come together and play as a team? There are only 15 games left to the playoffs, and if the 'Green Team' doesnt get their act together soon they could be looking at an early playoff exit and the criticism of Ainge for trading their starting center at the trading deadline would be incredible. Ryan
Another question that cant be answered until the playoffs. It obviously hasnt looked that great recently, but if the Cs get out of the East, then the trade was a success. If they get beat before the finals, then well have some fun around here.
Felger,Why are the Sox so reluctant to trade Dice-K? Are they still waiting for the Gyro-ball? Are they so proud that they won't admit a huge mistake? There seems to be enough candidates in camp to be the No. 5 starter.KenWhitman
You think theyre reluctant? I think theyd trade him for one of Tanguays pocket scarves right now.
Read Felgers weekly column Mondays. E-mail him HERE and read the mailbag on Thursdays. Listen to him on the radio weekdays, 2-6 p.m., on 98.5 the Sports Hub.