NY Islanders News

Eyes on Isles Presents: The Deke Squad — Episode 2

1 of 3

 Welcome to the Deke Squad.

Rich Dias-Rodrigues and Chris Triantafilis take a week’s worth of social media conversation, as well as in-house blathering, and bring it altogether for you, the reader.

Be sure to leave a comment below, as the point of it all is to organize a place for hockey fans, especially Islander ones, to come and have an intelligent discussion.

How it works: One question. One screen. One poll. Click ‘Next’.

Three in total.



This week’s topics:

  • John Tortorella, Patrick Roy, and the lack of respect for the Game
  • Media Bias: The veiled line between opinion and fact
  • Lubomir Visnovsky: Sightseeing in Sochi?



Jan 18, 2014; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks head coach John Tortorella and forward

Ryan Kesler

(17) talk to the Calgary Flames defenseman Shane O


Earlier this week, John Tortorella, coach for the Vancouver Canucks, received a 15-day suspension, without pay, mainly for his actions off the ice: attempting to enter the Calgary Flames locker room for what one can assume was to attack coach Bob Hartley.

What is it about the modern era of sports that has coaches and players acting so irresponsibly, so selfishly, and so stupidly? Does it have to do with the audience itself, perhaps? appealing to their baser qualities? Is it a question of heightened scrutiny?

RDR: I’ll start.

This topic has been broached several times by you, me, readers/listeners, fans, and the boys at Eyes.

The conclusions arrived at vary:

the rise in concussions is direct evidence of the growing maliciousness rampant in sports, with hockey and football leading the charge

the game has gotten big and faster and bolder, players and coaches in tow, and social media is the pressure cooker housing it all–heightened scrutiny

In other words, Chris, the violent injuries, irresponsible behavior, and the ensuing aftermath, are a mixture of added speed and strength involved in each respective sport and the need to elevate showmanship to match hefty paychecks and fan expectation, not to mention an increase in the scrutiny and interaction between athletes and fans and corporate sponsorship.

That’s sort of combining the two aforementioned camps.

CT: True. Fast game. Fast money.

RDR: Right!

So, to put John Tortorella’s actions into perspective, I compared his behavior to that of Patrick Roy’s from early October.

Who did the most damage to the game between the two?

Answer: Patrick Roy.

Listen: Torts suffers from a bad reputation with both media and players, and that’s part of the problem with having a ‘rep’ and posturing said ‘rep’:  you have to keep it up in order to uphold your “take no crap” attitude exhibited on and off the playing surface.

What goes for players goes also for coaches. And say what you want about referees and the NHL in general, they don’t forget as much as we think.

So, when you think about Tortorella, he went to the Flames room unarmed, if you will.

Violent intent? Perhaps? He’s an old-school guy looking to get into a shouting match, the way I see it.

Now, if he had a stick in hand, or what-have-you, then that’s a different story, one bordering on criminal behavior.

CT: And Roy pushed a heavy plexiglass pane onto the Ducks side, which could’ve injured anyone in the area, including Boudreau.

RDR: Exactly.

And if it did, the plexi falling on players and coaches, I’d only wonder the avenues the NHL would’ve taken to save both it’s former star in Roy and its current reputation.

I wonder if they’d be more interested in protecting Boudreau or the flashy, young former Stanley Cup champ, Patrick Roy. See what I’m driving at?

CT: Indeed.

RDR: The sticking point for me: Roy wasn’t heavily punished, allowing for the likes of John Tortorella to get it into their heads that storming into the Flames locker room was a bright idea. And I’m still not sure if Hartly getting fined makes absolute sense. Another day for that one.

Tortorella getting 15 days and Roy getting something much less substantial smells of bias, as well. Suffice to say that Roy used up his Get Out of Jail Free card for his stupidity, but still should’ve received a symbolic gesture, if you will, from the NHL.

And to answer the part of the question referencing the fans’ ‘baser qualities’, think about it this way:

  • How many Islander fans wouldn’t want a rematch with the Penguins, taking Crosby and his team in 4 straight in front of the hockey world, just to prove to the  Isles worth, and serve Sidney and Pens some payback. Revenge, if you will.

And remember: how many fans cheered the night Crosby got a puck to the face at the Coli? Disgusting, right? So I can’t be too far off.

Most sports, from whatever perspective you take, are all about emotional projection: fans project onto their players. Owners do likewise.

Players become objects, etc. and we all want our players to be humble champions, but we just have to remember they’re human. That’s why I don’t hold too much against the likes of Richard Sherman.

Now the question becomes: do the players and coaches know this about themselves and their opponents? Know that they’re human; people with families, etc. With some of the dirty hits I’ve seen this year alone, my response is “Jury’s out” on that.

CT: It’s an interesting question, Rich, but I actually do not think Tortorella’s “display” against the Flames was disrespectful.

I felt he was sticking up for his players, and actually earned a notch of respect from myself, and definitely his player. Sure, he didn’t have to go to the locker room, but we all know Torts is a hot-head. As you mentioned, the reputation precedes him.

RDR: True. That’s why I’m saying Patrick Roy is the more guilty party here, the one whose done the most damage, if for nothing else, setting a precedent; of doing harm among the people mentioned here. Hartley did what some coaches have done and will do time in, time out in the NHL.

But Roy’s antics have been repressed into the NHL’s conscience, for the most part, and because he’s a first-year coach and a supposed ambassador for a glorious NHL past, not to mention bringing with him a championship pedigree most players only dream about, his behavior gets a pass. Which is a problem for me.

See, the fact is Roy postured that night in early October, all as a means of sending a message to both his team and the league, and he chose Anaheim Ducks’ coach Bruce Boudreau as his target, even though Roy’s team was up by a considerable amount goals in that contest.

Never mind that he damaged the separating board between benches; rather, analyze the symbolic gesture on display that night. The symbolism behind attacking a coach who’s earned his respect throughout the profession.

Boudreau is the elder statesman here when lined up to Roy. Not that Roy should buy him chocolates or what-not, but there should be some semblance of respect for a proven veteran.

But there’s the young man, Roy, needing to beat the elder, to prove to the herd that a new era is upon them.

And Roy’s statement should’ve come in the form of on-ice play, which was on full display that evening, not in using your youth or “youthful enthusiasm” as both a reason and an excuse for outlandis and VIOLENT behavior.

And if you think Roy didn’t know he’d get a pass and avoid the Tortorella treatment, then you’re delusional and I have nothing for you.

CT: Chocolates?! Okay. Ha

So, yes, Torts never had to go to the locker room. By doing so, he makes himself look like a jerk, especially with the reputation preceding him. No matter what though, Torts will always look bad in these types situations.

He will always have the media’s spotlight here, so walking to the other locker room to “fight” an entire hockey team might not be in his best interest.

But if, Hartley did the reverse, do you think he would be getting the flack Torts is? Maybe people would say “Good, Torts deserves it.” That could be media bias, though, which is also reflected in our next question.

RDR: So Hartley needs to be taken to task as well? Interesting…yes moving on.

I think that if we honestly think about the history of some major sports in America, Baseball as primary example, you’ll find in the Hall of Fame: racists, thieves, con-men, saints, cheaters, charitable men, heroes. Why? Because they’re made up of human beings.

That’s pretty much it.

The game is human.