Why blaming the medical staff is nonsense

Dmitry Chesnokov wrote today that Semyon Varlamov is headed to the KHL. Chesnokov spoke with the young Russian’s agent who, when asked about “the stereotype that Varlamov is often injured”, implied that the Washington Capitals’ medical staff was responsible for the amount of time Varly was sidelined throughout his time in Washington.

However, being an expert and all, I am calling shenanigans.

That implication is ridiculous. In all seriousness, I was an athletic training student last year. While I don’t know everything there is to know about the rehabilitation processes, I did observe in every training room at the University of North Dakota for a total of about 105 hours. During those hours, you see the how athletes talk with the certifieds when they come in with an injury or are going through the stages of rehabbing. Several times I heard some version of “I’m not ready” if someone felt like they needed more time until they felt 100 percent. By Varlamov’s age, athletes know their body. They know how much they can push themselves.

I once heard a conversation between a trainer and athlete discussing the latter’s condition. The trainer asked how the athlete was feeling. They responded that it was still acting up a little but they wanted to play so bad, but then immediately, they said that they understood that if it doesn’t feel right, it’s best not to go. They knew that they could risk a worse injury than they already had, which brings me to my next point.

During rehabilitation, the athlete is just as responsible as the trainers, therapists, and doctors. If they don’t cooperate by not doing their exercises and or not communicating, no one is going to benefit. Obviously, none of us outside of the organization know how Varlamov was treated or if he was fully cooperative. Considering his attitude over the years, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he didn’t comply with what  he was told do because he didn’t deem it necessary for his rehab.


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Settling the score

College hockey.

It may be the highest level of “pure” hockey in North America. There are no fears of potentially being traded to a bottom-of-the-basement team. There are no arbitration hearings that require a team to tell players every little aspect of their game that is flawed. There are no contract extension snafus because it is set in stone that a player will be there for one to five years.

While the college ranks provide us with a break from the headaches that are the NHL salary cap and bogus long-term contracts, there is one issue that has turned into a fierce debate: fighting.

Rarely do you see an actual drop-the-gloves fight break out amongst college foes, even after one’s own teammate has been injured by an opponent. It is not that they don’t want to stand up for their teammates; it is the fact that doing so could further hurt the team. For those not familiar with the NCAA, players who fight receive a disqualification penalty (ejection) and are automatically suspended. According to Section 17. A. R. 2 of the 2008-2010 NCAA Ice Hockey Rules and Interpretations, even a player trying to break up a fight in progress can be removed for the rest of the game. Having such strict rules against fighting can actually end up being a detriment to the game, as The Ciskie Blog pointed out back in February.

Last November, North Dakota senior captain Chay Genoway received a nasty hit to the head from St. Cloud State’s Aaron Marvin just nine games into the UND’s regular season schedule. Genoway missed the rest of the season due to post concussion syndrome, but he will return to Grand Forks for a fifth year after being granted a medical hardship by the NCAA. All that ensues is a scrum filled with little gloved punches to cages, yelling, and grabbing jerseys. In any NHL game, mitts would be dropped (helmets if there’s time) and the man guilty of causing injury would be facing a very angry opponent. It is part of the fighting “code” in hockey, but it is essentially nonexistent in college rinks.

On any given bench, there are twenty 18 to 25 year old young men. Testosterone and adrenaline are already high, but add the overflowing emotion that follows an incident like Genoway/Marvin to the mix, and the results could be dangerous in future games between the teams. In the third game of the series, there were several times where the pent-up anger of the Sioux was put on display. In the first period, Mario Lamoureux and Marvin attempted to duke it out NHL-style by throwing down the buckets and gloves. While it went nowhere because of the officials intervening, it was clearly premeditated, and it was Lamoureux’s attempt at getting vengeance for his sidelined teammate. The second period saw defenseman Ben Blood lay what the commentator called a “jack in the box” hit on Marvin. Whether he meant to catch him with an elbow or not, it was apparent that Blood had all the intention of knocking Marvin on his ass and was rather satisfied with himself as he exclaimed something in a fallen Marvin’s face and wore a smirk on his face in the penalty box. The third period had to have something, right? Darcy Zajac slashed the back of a Husky’s legs and melee ensued. By the end of the night, penalties were 18-17 North Dakota, and the teams had amassed a total of 135 penalty minutes combined.

Thankfully, there was no serious damage done to any of the players involved. However, there may come a time where that is not the case. The next time someone gets injured, there will be a bounty on the player who hurt them. It will probably only get rougher. The premeditated fights will be more skillfully done, the huge hits could become Matt Cooke-esque, and scrums could get out of control and become full-on line brawls. To some, those “could be’s” may all sound slightly  over-exaggerated, but when players can’t respond by fighting right after something happens, they are going to hold a grudge and emotions will build up and only get stronger while they are unable to take too much action. It is not to say that the NCAA should necessarily condone fighting, but something needs to be done so that future incidents do not end much worse than North Dakota vs. St. Cloud.

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DEVELOPMENT CAMP: Identify Group A players

With so many players, it can be hard to indentify who’s who, especially with so many invites. There are a few you can identify by faces, and then of course, you can name them if you’ve got their number or nameplate in your picture. Here are a few ways that can help you figure out which player is which (by lines). Numbers, most names, and line combos courtesy of @takingnames.

#50 Cody Eakin – #75 Phil DeSimone – #91 Sean Wiles

-Eakin is easily identifiable by his ginger hair. Even if you can recognize him by his face, that red hair is sticking out of the sides of his helmet. He’s also a lefty, uses an Easton stick, and wears Warrior gloves.
-DeSimone has short dark hair that isn’t too visible. He’s a lefty, uses a Nike Bauer stick with black tape (or no tape?) on the blade, and wears Reebok gloves. His skates are black and the tongues are floppy.
-Wiles is the only righty on the line. He wears Reebok gloves, RBK pants, and uses a Nike Bauer stick with white tape on the blade. He’s also the tallest on this line at 6’4.

#9 Patrick Cullen – #18 Chris Forfar – #48 Evgeny Kuznetsov

-Cullen has somewhat long hair that sticks out of his helmet a little bit. He wears Reebok gloves and pants and uses a Reebok stick that has black tape on the blade and tan/white tape on the shaft. He’s a lefty.
-Forfar wears greyish skates and Bauer gloves. He’s a righty and uses a Bauer stick that is white on the top half and black on the bottom half and has tan/white tape on the shaft and blade.
-Kuznetsov is a lefty and wears Bauer gloves and pants. He uses an Easton stick with tan/white tape on the shaft and blade. His skates have a tiny hint of yellow on the side/back.

#77 Jake Hauswirth – #84 Stefan Della Rovere – #87 David deKastrozza

-Hauswirth is the tallest on the line at 6’5. He’s a lefty, wears RBK pants and Reebok gloves, and uses either a Reebok or Bauer stick with black tape on the blade and white tape on the shaft. He leaves his skate tongues out and floppy.
-Della Rovere is probably the shortest on the line. He’s a lefty, wears Reebok gloves and pants, and uses a black Reebok stick with black tape on the blade and white on the shaft. His skates are completely black.
-deKastrozza is a righty, wears Reebok gloves, and uses a black Reebok stick.

#34 Brendan Woods – #94 Anton Gustafsson – #86 Andrew Cherniwchan

-Woods is a lefty. He wears Warrior gloves, RBK pants, and grey skates. He uses a Warrior stick with yellow and blue details and black tape on the blade and red on the shaft.
-Gustafsson is a lefty and uses a black CCM stick that has red detail at the top and black tape on the shaft and blade. He wears Bauer gloves and pants.
-Cherniwchan is a righty. He wears RBK gloves and has a Nike Bauer stick that is black with a little grey where it says “Bauer” and has white tape on his blade.

#59 Joe Finley – #81 Dmirti Orlov

-Finley is probably the easiest guy to pick out. He’s the tallest out of all of the campers at 6’8. He wears Bauer gloves. He’s a lefty and has a black Reebok stick has black tape on the blade and white on the shaft.
-Orlov is probably one of the few guys I’ve seen with a CCM helmet. He’s a lefty and uses a black Bauer stick with white tape on the blade and black on the shaft. He wears Bauer gloves and Reebok pants.

#17 Chris Bond – #29 Brett Flemming

-Bond is a lefty with a blue Easton stick that has black tape on the blade and white on the shaft. He wears Bauer gloves and Easton pants.
-Flemming has major hockey hair sticking out of the back of his helmet. He’s a righty and uses a blue Easton stick with black tape on the blade. He wears Reebok gloves and RBK pants.


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The Caps 2010-2011 Regular Season Schedule!

From NHL.com:

Oct. 8 at Atlanta, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 9 New Jersey, 7:00 p.m.
Oct. 11 Ottawa, 7:00 p.m.
Oct. 13 N.Y. Islanders, 7:00 p.m.
Oct. 16 at Nashville, 8:00 p.m.
Oct. 19 Boston, 7:00 p.m.
Oct. 21 at Boston, 7:00 p.m.
Oct. 23 Atlanta, 7:00 p.m.
Oct. 27 at Carolina, 7:00 p.m.
Oct. 28 at Minnesota, 8:00 p.m.
Oct. 30 at Calgary, 10:00 p.m.
Nov. 3 Toronto, 7:00 p.m.
Nov. 5 Boston, 7:00 p.m.
Nov. 7 Philadelphia, 5:00 p.m.
Nov. 9 at N.Y. Rangers, 7:00 p.m.
Nov. 11 Tampa Bay, 7:00 p.m.
Nov. 13 at Buffalo, 7:00 p.m.
Nov. 14 Atlanta, 5:00 p.m.
Nov. 17 Buffalo, 7:00 p.m.
Nov. 19 at Atlanta, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 20 Philadelphia, 7:00 p.m.
Nov. 22 at New Jersey, 7:00 p.m.
Nov. 24 at Carolina, 7:00 p.m.
Nov. 26 Tampa Bay, 5:00 p.m.
Nov. 28 Carolina, 5:00 p.m.
Dec. 1 at St. Louis, 8:00 p.m.
Dec. 2 at Dallas, 8:30 p.m.
Dec. 4 Atlanta, 7:00 p.m.
Dec. 6 Toronto, 7:00 p.m.
Dec. 9 Florida, 7:00 p.m.
Dec. 11 Colorado, 7:00 p.m.
Dec. 12 at N.Y. Rangers, 7:00 p.m.
Dec. 15 Anaheim, 7:00 p.m.
Dec. 18 at Boston, 7:00 p.m.
Dec. 19 at Ottawa, 5:00 p.m.
Dec. 21 New Jersey, 7:00 p.m.
Dec. 23 Pittsburgh, 7:00 p.m.
Dec. 26 at Carolina, 7:00 p.m.
Dec. 28 Montreal, 7:00 p.m.
Jan. 1 at Pittsburgh, 1:00 p.m.
Jan. 4 Tampa Bay, 7:00 p.m.
Jan. 8 Florida, 7:00 p.m.
Jan. 11 at Florida, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 12 at Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 14 Vancouver, 7:00 p.m.
Jan. 16 Ottawa, 3:00 p.m.
Jan. 18 at Philadelphia, 7:00 p.m.
Jan. 20 at N.Y. Islanders, 7:00 p.m.
Jan. 22 at Toronto, 7:00 p.m.
Jan. 24 N.Y. Rangers, 7:00 p.m.
Jan. 26 at Atlanta, 7:00 p.m.
Feb. 1 Montreal, 7:00 p.m.
Feb. 4 at Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 6 Pittsburgh, 12:30 p.m.
Feb. 8 San Jose, 7:00 p.m.
Feb. 12 Los Angeles, 12:30 p.m.
Feb. 14 at Phoenix, 9:00 p.m.
Feb. 16 at Anaheim, 10:00 p.m.
Feb. 17 at San Jose, 10:30 p.m.
Feb. 20 at Buffalo, 3:00 p.m.
Feb. 21 at Pittsburgh, 7:00 p.m.
Feb. 25 N.Y. Rangers, 7:00 p.m.
Feb. 26 at N.Y. Islanders, 7:00 p.m.
Mar. 1 N.Y. Islanders, 7:00 p.m.
Mar. 3 St. Louis, 7:00 p.m.
Mar. 6 at Florida, 5:00 p.m.
Mar. 7 at Tampa Bay, 7:00 p.m.
Mar. 9 Edmonton, 7:00 p.m.
Mar. 11 Carolina, 7:00 p.m.
Mar. 13 Chicago, 3:00 p.m.
Mar. 15 at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.
Mar. 16 at Detroit, 7:00 p.m.
Mar. 18 at New Jersey, 7:00 p.m.
Mar. 22 at Philadelphia, 7:00 p.m.
Mar. 25 at Ottawa, 7:30 p.m.
Mar. 26 at Montreal, 7:00 p.m.
Mar. 29 Carolina, 7:00 p.m.
Mar. 31 Columbus, 7:00 p.m.
Apr. 2 Buffalo, 7:00 p.m.
Apr. 5 at Toronto, 7:00 p.m.
Apr. 6 Florida, 7:00 p.m.
Apr. 9 at Florida, 7:00 p.m.

I can’t wait to find free feeds online while I’m at college :D If only there was a team in Winnipeg, I could go to a lot more NHL games…Someone bring the Jets back!

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Lacrosse and its place in the sports world

UVA lacrosse players George Huguely and Yeardley Love. Huguely was arrested for the murder of Love.

Lacrosse is a sport that is unknown to many. While it is gaining some steam in terms of kids picking up a stick and playing, it is still in its infancy as far as publicity.

Turn on SportsCenter on any normal day. What do you see on the ticker to the left? I will tell you what you don’t see: anything pertaining to lacrosse.

Have you heard about the National Lacrosse League? It’s a box lacrosse league that’s played in what’s usually the offseason, from winter to early spring.

What about the Major League Lacrosse? It’s a field league played in the summers. It went from six teams to 10 and it’s back at six.

Did you know just about every single professional lacrosse player needs to have an actual job? If you watch a game on TV, you can actually catch the broadcasters occasionally talking about what the players do to earn a paycheck they can live off of.

The common answer to those questions is probably “No.” Why would anyone know about that? Lacrosse doesn’t get any kind of recognition it deserves. Women’s NCAA basketball gets more coverage than college men’s lacrosse. Sure, SportsCenter has had a play or two in Top 10 plays and maybe the National Champ gets five seconds of unenthusiastic congratulations, but when do you see lacrosse extensively covered on all of your local news channels and major sports networks?

When players are accused of being rapists and killers.

As a player, you live and breath lacrosse. The culture of the game really is like nothing else. But as far as what the “outside world” sees, it seems as though lacrosse gets nothing but a bad reputation that goes further than the strange sounding lingo (“Bro, he’s gonna be a sick FOGO in college”) and the stereotypical look (Gotta have the flow and rock the midcalfs).

Lacrosse is the “rich white kid” sport. Mommy and daddy buy them all of the best equipment from STX and Warrior and pay for them to go to Dematha, Landon, St. Mary’s, or Georgetown Prep so that they can make it to Hopkins, Syracuse, Virginia, or Duke. It’s the sport “with the net on the stick,” or, as some like to say, “hockey in the air.” But more than that, it’s the “play hard, party hard” reputation that seems to be sticking.

The problem is that outsiders don’t see the rest of the lacrosse world. The only time they are exposed to it is when there is a juicy, negative story eating up ink and paper and generating thousands of hits on websites and blogs. In the other major sports, you hear about “He’s a great guy off the ice/field/court.” Do you ever hear that about lacrosse? No, not unless you play, have played, or just have a love for the game and follow it. These guys are school teachers and lawyers who have to have seperate jobs instead of playing for a paycheck. They have a great love for the game that is put on display when they take time out of a job that pays their mortgages and bills just to play lacrosse. But no average passerby will ever know that. They will know it as the sport where those kids from Duke were falsely accused and charged with rape. They will know it as the sport where the one guy player was arrested and charged for the murder of his girlfriend, the lacrosse player.

When the Duke rape scandal came out, it was everywhere. ESPN had nice, long segments about it…daily. Any publicity is not good publicity, especially when you are trying to build a sport from the ground up.

As a player naive to this perceived culture, I still found myself strongly backing the accused players, as if it was a “we’re all in this together” kind of thing. No one seemed to believe them, particularly once it turned into a black vs. white issue. No one seemed to feel any sympathy for those three men, a lacrosse team, and an entire university once the accuser had been found to have lied about the entire thing. She put the individuals through hell, forever tarnished a team’s reputation, and, in a seperate incident, was arrested for attempted murder, assault, and arson.

The terrible has heavily outweighed the great, and the recent incident of George Huguely allegedly murdering ex-girlfriend Yeardley Love has done nothing to help. In something so tragic, it has again shed a negative light on the sport. Every update is on the news stations, and they are probably on ESPN as well. While it is deservedly put into the forefront of the media, it continues to show the ignorance of the rest of the sports world. No one’s acknowledging the good of lacrosse. It looks like it will continue to always just be the bad.

Casual sports fans will probably never know the significance of 22 or what the Tewaaraton is. They probably won’t learn what an Air Gait or a FOGO is. Maybe they can figure out what an ankle breaker is. But SportsCenter won’t be explaining it any time soon. Or even showing it.

It’s lacrosse against the world, and we’re losing.

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Completely Pointless Facts About Game 4 Officiating

Tonight’s officials are Dan O’Rourke and Tim Peel. Here we go:

Dan O’Rourke
The Caps saw O’Rourke five times during the regular season (four at home, once on the road).

O’Rourke has seen the Caps go 3-1-1 under his officiating. He has reffed with both Game 3 officials, Kelly Sutherland and Kevin Pollock.

Twice the Caps have received more penalties, twice the opponent received more, and once both teams were even in penalties.

The lone road game O’Rourke officiated was a 6-3 win at Mellon Arena. The Caps had twice as many penalties as the Penguins.

The back-to-back games he officiated versus Detroit and at Pittsburgh were part of the 14-game win streak (the 4th and 5th).

One-tenth of the Capitals 20 fights were when O’Rourke was officiating.

Tim Peel
The Caps saw Peel just three times (all at home).

The Caps are perfect at 3-0-0 when Peel is reffing.

Only once, the Caps were called for more penalties than the opposition.

The back-to-back games he reffed against Atlanta and Pittsburgh were during the 14-game win streak. They were actually the last two of that run, the 13th and 14th wins.

Again, one-tenth of the Caps 20 fights happened with Peel officiating.

In the end…
The Caps record was 6-1-1 and 1-0-0 on the road when either man reffed.

The Caps have a GF/G of 4.25 and a GA/G of 2.75.

One-fifth of the Caps fights occured under these two officials combined.

I’ll go ahead and call a 5-3 Caps win with one fight between Matt Bradley and someone.

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Completely Pointless Facts About Game 3 Officiating

Before the last game of the regular season, I decided to go through every single Caps game to try and find patterns of certain referees after reading Tim Leone’s blog about the Bears’ records with certain officials. I wrote everything down, but never got around to going through the “data.” But after plenty of whining from mainly the media about officiating of Game 2 between the Caps and the Habs, I decided to look at it for the first time.

The officials for Game 3, via @Habsinsideout1, will be Kevin Pollock and Kelly Sutherland.

Kelly Sutherland
The Capitals saw Sutherland six times during the regular season (five at home, once on the road).

With Sutherland, it’s evenly split; three times, the Caps have received more penalties and three times, the opposition has received more penalties.

Our record with Sutherland is 5-1-0 and includes two of the three shutout posted by Caps goalies this year.

The only away game that he reffed was a 3-0 shutout win in Tampa.

Kevin Pollock
The Capitals only saw Pollock twice during the regular season (both on the road).

With Pollock, the Caps always had more penalties than their opponents (which, in the Penguins series, was the case anyway).

Our record with Pollock is a perfect 2-0-0. Both wins came during the 14-game winning streak (the 5th and 11th wins).

Both were road wins.

In the end…
Between the two referees, the Caps were perfect at 3-0-0  on the road with one shutout, 4.33 GF/G, and 1.33 GA/G.

Through those three games, penalties against the Caps vs. penalties against opponents were 18-16 and twice the Caps took more penalties than the opponent.

Of course, it’s the second season and nothing from the first 82 means much now…

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