Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Ottawa Sun's Don Brennan would really like you to pay attention to him

Don Brennan has been in the news this week, thanks to his suggestion that the Senators target Sidney Crosby's ankle. That minor controversy quickly died, and Brennan's attempt to prolong it by creating a fictional feud with Georges Laraque failed to get him any additional face time.

Luckily, that leaves Brennan to focus on what he does best: writing ridiculous pro-Senator fluff pieces for the Ottawa Sun. Let's take a look at Sunday's masterpiece.

The immediate inclination is to sigh and roll your eyes. Blame the officials? Please. The Senators lost Game 2 of their opening-round playoff series with the Penguins on Friday because, for the majority of the night, they were by far and away the second-best team on the ice.
Wow, this is actually fairly reasonable. Hard to argue with any of that, in fact.

To hear them whine about the referees afterward was to see them dodging reality. It also made them sound like losers, and not just the kind that wound up on the short end of the final score.
I'll be damned. After years of trying, I've finally found an Ottawa Sun article about the Senators that tells it like it is. No homerism. No excuses. No ridiculous kid gloves routine. Just a straightforward opinion.

That was a really good column. It renewed my faith in the Ottawa media, and made me feel all tingly and warm. My only complaint would be that it was kind of short.

Oh wait, there seems to be more. Which direction will this article go now, I wonder quietly to myself.

Over a post-game beer, however, the complaints are easier to swallow.
I think I'm losing my tingle.

Dennis LaRue and Kevin Pollock were extremely inconsistent, from a horrible holding call on Chris Phillips in the first period that left the Senators two men short and helped the Penguins to their first goal, to the end of the game.
You know, if I didn't know any better, I'd say this was blaming the officials. I thought that made you sound like a loser?

Wait, is this one of those sneaky columns where a moron says something reasonably objective to rope in suckers like me, and then end up arguing the exact opposite? Dammit, I always fall for that!

If the refs are putting away their whistles late in the third period of a 3-3 deadlock, then away they should stay.
Well, sure. Normally, in a tight playoff game you would expect the refs to put away their whistles on judgment calls, like hooking or cross-checking. Really, the only penalties you're going to see called are the ones where the referee has absolutely no discretion, like a puck over the glass or, I don't know, somebody getting cracked in the head with a stick.

As Joe Starkey points out in yesterday's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Penguins were lucky Kris Letang wasn't called for hauling down Shean Donovan on a breakaway. They were also fortunate that Ryan Malone wasn't penalized for breaking his stick cross-checking Chris Neil shortly before scoring the winning goal on a power play.
Right. Those are exactly the sort of questionable judgement calls that you'd expect to see called early, but not late in a tight playoff game. I'm with you here, Brennan. I'm sorry I called you a moron four paragraphs ago.

To find himself in the box for that one, Martin Lapointe couldn't have caught Jarkku Ruutu in the face with his stick, as Ruutu portrayed in an Oscar-worthy performance. Lapointe's stick was moving fast as he tried to lift Ruutu's, and he would have drawn blood had he contacted skin.
This is indisputably true. It's physically impossible for an NHL player to be hit in the face with a high-stick but not bleed. It has never happened.

But just so I'm clear, we all agree that Lapointe high-sticked Ruutu in the head, yes?

Still, accidentally high-sticking a guy in the helmet is a penalty by the strictest rules of the game...
OK, good. I thought you were going to try to imnply that it shouldn't have been a penalty, which would be so dumb it would force me to swear like a villian in a 1940s cartoon.

... just as is intentionally cross-checking an opponent in the back. Call both or neither.

To recap, if at any point a referee decides not to call a questionable cross-check, players are immediately allowed to club each other in the head with their sticks.

But surely there must be some moronic and arbitrary way to decide what to call that would just happen to favor the Senators, right Don?

And if you're only going to punish one, shouldn't it be the deliberately committed crime?
Got it. Intentionally reaching out a hand to obstruct a player for a half-second, penalty. Accidentally swinging your stick at a guy's head, not a pentalty. This is a good system.

But wait, what if a player wildly swings his stick like a golf club, and literally blinds another player? Would guys like Brennan really pretend it was no big deal, and never mention it again?

OK, bad example. Let's move on.

Come on Brennan, help us erase the memory of that unpleasantness. Unleash one of your patented homer-ific paragraphs, the kind that causes readers to cry tears of foulest bile if they're not wearing their protective Sens Fan Goggles.

The Senators didn't consciously want to come off like cry babies, but they were unable to stifle it when the injustice of it all sank in as they packed their equipment for the trip home. Their frustration was understandable.
One second, I need to wipe the eye-bile off of my keyboard.

OK, here's a fun game. Let's all pause for a moment and try to come up with our own theories about how this sort of pre-teen fanclub gibberish could make it into a major daily newspaper.

My theory is that Brennan walked away from his laptop for a minute to get some pressbox popcorn. Bryan Murray snuck in, guessed Brennan's password ("alfie4ever"), inserted the above paragraph, and the editors left it in because they secretly hate their readers and want them to suffer. But I'm open to ideas.

Take us home, Donnie! Put it all together for us by showing us how this single play has determined the entire course of Senators history.
If Lapointe was not given that penalty, if someone from the visitors' dressing room emerged as an overtime hero ... if the Senators were taking this series back home tied 1-1 after a complete and dramatic comeback, they'd suddenly be in the driver's seat with two games at Scotiabank Place. Now, they're down 2-0 and likely out of it, if not headed to the woodshed for a broom-beating in what would be the third time they've been swept from a playoff series in franchise history.
To recap, Martin Lapointe hits an opponent in the head with his stick. He gets a penalty, which is grossly unfair. If he hadn't been called, there's a good chance the Senators would have won the game and would be in the driver's seat for the series, but now they're going to get swept.

Damien Cox really doesn't seem so bad now, does he?

Let's go to the final scoreboard. And... Brennan has taken an early lead in the Ottawa Sun Homer-lympics! Can Garrioch build on the momentum from his Mark Bell is dirty but Chris Neil is just fine tirade and catch him? And will we hear from Chris Stevenson before the week is done?

Ottawa Sun playoff coverage -- catch the excitement!


  1. brennan and cox must know each other. the piece must have brought some tears to cox's eyes. what a performance. bravo.

  2. Cox is the anit-Brennan. Damien never likes anything the Leafs do -- they can never please him. The Ottawa Sun guys are the exact opposite. Everything is great, the team is wonderful, it's sunshine and rainbows and puppies.

    Damien Cox wouldn't last three days in Ottawa. The fans wouldn't know what to make of him.

  3. Bizzaro Cox is one dillusional dude.
    I mean, if someone were writting like that about the Leafs I'd still want to vomit all over my keybored.

  4. Good work Sean. It is unbelievable the difference between the Toronto and Ottawa hockey media. Kind of like the difference between the respective teams, the fans, the buildings, the cities, the captains, the women... (ellipses required as this list goes on forever)

  5. Alfie vs. Mark Bell -- Paul Hunter(Tor Star):"a huge bodycheck form Mark Bell - likely the hardest delivered on the Air Canada Centre ice this season". Damien Cox (Tor Star):"devasted by a gorgeous (and clean) open-ice hit delivered by Mark Bell". Bruce Garrioch (Ott Sun):"what appeared to be a blatant attempt to injure... a vicious but unpenalized elbow to the head". Allen Panzeri (Ott Citizen):"vicious elbow to the head... went unpenalized, the officials obviously having missed it... none of them saw what was clearly a vicious attempt to injure". Old news, i know, but it kinda illustrates your point. The most misleading word they use is "attempt".

  6. General...

    I wrote another post about the reaction to the Bell hit, specifically Garrioch's reaction. Apparently I wasn't the only one who noticed; the day after he was on the radio mentioning that he'd been getting e-mails from Sabres fans calling him a hypocrite.

    P.S. Great screen name.