Mr. Smith's Neighborhood

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Soupy Blows it Again April 26, 2009

Fans Need to Send a Message

NHL Senior Executive Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell issued a one-game suspension to Rangers Head Coach John Tortorella for squirting a fan with water and then throwing the water bottle at the fan. And, despite the rantings of hockey buttheads like Greg Wyshynski of Puck Daddy fame, the situation was mishandled, as usual, by Soupy.

Wyshynski would have you believe that the punishment fit the crime, and that’s what you would expect from the usual lame analysis from Wyshynski . The true statement is that the punishment fit the financial objectives of the NHL.

From the outset, let’s make it clear, I am a long-time Rangers fan but I am not a fan of Tortorella. I openly condemn his actions. While a HUGE fine to Tortorella and the Rangers was in order, hockey fans need to understand two things. First is that a suspension serves the business interests of the NHL. Second is why Soupy must accept blame for mismanaging yet another incident.

Let’s examine Soupy’s “as usual” screw-up first. Even if you put aside Campbell’s well-documented inclination to stick it to the Rangers every chance he gets, there is an issue in law called proximate cause. Proximate cause refers to the specific action that ultimately results in an outcome. Lay people may understand the principal better from a related term called mitigating circumstances, which is actually justification for somebody responding in an incorrect manner.

There are no mitigating circumstances in what Tortorella did. His exchange with the Washington fans was totally unprofessional, unacceptable and contrary to everything he preaches. However, the proximate cause of the situation was the lack of response by Capitals’ security to complaints from Rangers’ bench personnel about spitting, cursing and threatening behavior from the fans near the bench.

Again, the behavior of the Capitals’ fans and the lack of response by Capital’s security does not justify or mitigate Tortorella’s actions. However, do not be fooled … Soupy’s suspension of Tortorella was well-calculated for maximum impact against the Rangers. Soupy needs to explain why he only took action against the Rangers and did not punish the Capitals and their fans.

The end result is that Soupy, by only punishing Tortorella, rewarded the Capitals and their fans for their poor behavior.

That subtle message reinforces the acceped belief that Campbell and his oblivious boss, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, are not managing a sport but are promoting a business. The sooner hockey fans realize this, the sooner they will be able to reclaim their beloved sport from the clutches of these two satanic officials.

The NHL Playoffs are cash cows for the league, play-off teams and TV networks (currently NBC and Versus). Ticket prices go through the roof and TV reveues increase dramatically for the brief playoff season. The current play-off year is killing the NHL coffers. With Montreal gone in four games and Calgary on the verge of elimination, Vancouver is the only Canadian team that has made it to the second round. The Canadian TV market for Stanley Cup Playoff hockey is going down the drain fast.

Another problem for the NHL is the New York TV market for NHL hockey is a major enigma. The Devils, despite their success, cannot build their fan base and only sell out games against local rivals. The Islanders, who have done horribily over the last two decades, cannot fill their arena. The Rangers have a large and loyal fan base, but we are fickle fans because we have seen just one successful Cup quest in 69 years.

While there are more hockey fans in the New York area than in any other American city, the number of fans produce an actual TV viewing audience in terms of Neilsen ratings that is almost negligible (unless two local teams are playing each other). There are more people watching infomercials in the New York market than a hockey game.

Also, New York fans do not care about the other teams; in fact, fans of one team truly hate the other two teams and rarely will ever watch them play. In reality, the elimination of New York teams from play-off contention is good business for the NHL because there are other markets with better potential.

The second issue from a business point of view is that the NHL does not generate star-quality players with a personal fan base like other sports. Most people can name handfuls of stars from each of the other three major sports: the NFL, NBA and MLB. Hell … the average person could name more professional golfers than NHL stars. Other than Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, who is catching the imagination of kids around North America?

And that is why Soupy’s decision to suspend Tortorella was good bsuiness for the NHL. First, Tortorella benches fan favorite and team spark plug Sean Avery in Game 5; even chalking that up to coach’s perogative, the negative effect on the team’s performance was predictable. Then Tortorella follows that up with a stupid move that results in a suspension to Tortorella and no action against the Capitals. Campbell and Bettman, unless they are bigger morons than most people think they are, had to know that end result would be a Rangers loss in Game 6, forcing a Game 7 in Washington.

Other than the obvious fact that a Game 7 in Washington will be the biggest hockey event in years, it will be against the hated New Yorkers. That means good TV ratings and better advertising revenues (even if it is on the fledgling Versus). It also gives Alex Ovechkin a chance to win and keep on playing into the second round.

If you doubt what I am saying here, watch and see what action Campbell takes against the biggest jerk playing in the NHL, Donald Brashear of the Capitals. He is a player with absolutely no skill and less intelligence than skill. In case you missed it, Brashear blind-sided Blair Betts of the Rangers with a cheap shot, knocking him unconscious. Of course, the two referees and the two linesmen caled it wrong, so there was just a two-minute penalty against Brashear. Like, what else is new?

As for sending a message, please join me in boycotting the NHL’s web site. Even if you are an out-of-control addict, stay away for two or three days. Also, boycott as many games on TV as you can … I boycotted today’s game, getting my updates online, and apparently I didn’t miss very much. But hockey fans must do something that gets Bettman and Campbell out of OUR sport.


14 Responses to “Soupy Blows it Again”

  1. Rebelcows Says:

    I see you fail to mention the fact that Torts hit a female fan in the Friggin head with the water bottle. You don’t attack fans…especially fans that had nothing to do with the altercation.

  2. bluboo Says:

    I have to disagree with your comment. The first sentence quite clearly describes what the issue was. The throwing was the problem and it doesn’t matter if he hit a male or female, or whether or not the person was an innocent bystander. I went to great lengths to say that everything he did was worng. Tortorella was worng all the way around and, if Sather had any cojones (which we know that he has less brains than cojones), he would fire Tortorella.

    • Rebelcows Says:

      Then you don’t believe that a coach that attacks a fan should be suspended? I’m very confused by that. And anyway, should the Rangers still not have been able to win even without him behind the bench. I just don’t see how you think this is a big conspiracy. Finally in your first sentence you only make mention of him throwing the bottle…not actually hitting someone who had nothing to do with his argument. Yes, that makes all the difference.

      • bluboo Says:

        I think Tortorella should have been fined and fired. I also think the Rangers should have been fined for Tortorella’s behavior. But I also think the Capitals should have been fined for the lack of proper management by their security team. That is fair all the way around.

        The point being missed is that the suspension or Tortorella added to the turmoil and de-moralization of the team. The players were obviously confused and pissed off by Tortorella’s benching of Avery for Avery’s undisciplined behavior, and then Tortorella goes and demonstrates the highest level of undisciplined behavior. The other issue … a one-sided act by Campbell.

        Believe me … if the Rangers lose the series, it is their own fault.

  3. cyko95 Says:

    Saying that your a long time fan of the team, yet disagree with Tortorella does not remove bias from your view.

    Also, I would have a hard time agreeing with a guy attacking Brashear for an incident that he takes personal when the very team he cheers for includes Sean Avery, the king of cheap shots, and a coach that leads by example in the same way.

    • bluboo Says:

      There is a HUGE difference between Avery, who is a pain-in-the-butt instigator, agitator and pest, and a skillless, worthless goon like Donald Brashear.

      Avery does a job long accepted in hockey, and he is far less intrusive than former agitatos like Esa Tikkanen and Ken Linseman. Brashear has a long history of “intent-to-injure” and blind-side hits.

      Am I wrong? Let’s see … Soupy handed down a six game suspension to Brashear. Was that enough? Let everyone else debate that. Who is going to miss a no-talent like Brashear? If Blair Betts cannot play, then the Caps got the better end of that deal, so Brashear did his job.

      However, at the same time, Soupy decided not to take action against the Capitals for their home security issues.

      What will the crowd do the Rangers bench Tuesday night? We’ll see.

  4. Mike L. Says:

    Torts is lucky he got only one game for what he did. If it was only squirting water and yelling at the crowd, that’s one thing. Once it gets to a solid object being thrown from the bench into the crowd, it crosses the line.

    That said, Colin Campbell and the NHL need to come up with some standard mandatory minimums for actions like this. Personally, any physical contact (direct or via thrown object) between a person involved in the game and a spectator should require a minimum of a week’s suspension, longer if there are injuries.

    We’ll see what happens in Game 7, and Tortorella not being there didn’t cause the Rangers to lose game 6… last I checked he wasn’t on the ice in any of the games before either…

    • bluboo Says:

      Hey Mike …

      Let me clearly state that a suspension is inadequate. There should have been a serious fine to Tortorella, and then he should be fired at the end of the playoffs. The Rangers should also have been fined. But the Capitals should also have been fined for providing inadequate security and for not responding to requests from the Rangers bench.

      The impact on the Rangers was an emotional one, and the Rangers are an emotional weak team. They were reeling from Tortorella’s decision to bench Avery, and then Tortorella goes and acts in a far more undisciplined manner than Avbery did on the ice in Game 4. The toll on the Rangers guaranteed a loss in Game 6 because all motivation was gone.

      To fully understand how the emotional impact of a coach can suck the life out of a team, the news of Mike Keenan almost caused the Rangers to blow a 3-1 lead in the 1994 Cup Finals. And these were tougher guys (Messier, Graves, Tikkanen, Lowe, Beukeboom, etc,) with bigger cojones than the current crop of Rangers.

      Again, as said above, if the Rangers blow this, it’s their own fault.

  5. bluboo Says:

    I have to disagree with Cyko95. Being a fan of hockey (I also have cheered the Bruins for close to 36 years and Edmonton in their glory days of the ’80’s), I love hockey for what it is. As a Ranger fan, I do not feel obligated to defend everything they do and, as a former season-ticket holder for the ten years prior to this year, I have done my share of criticizing the organization.

    As an educator, parent and community leader, a good sense of “right and wrong” is necessary. Tortorella is wrong no matter how you look at it. But that does not mean that Campbell handled it right.

    There is a big difference between being a pest and agitator (Avery) and a moron like Brashears with a history of “intent to injure” actions. Cyko is trying to justify the existence of Brashears and his shot to Betts’ head yesterday.

  6. cyko95 Says:

    You can disagree with me and add useless information about your history as a hockey fan all you want. The bottom line is you think a man that attacked someone else was punished too much by missing a game. If that situation happened anywhere else by regular people the person that threw the bottle could have been arrested for battery. Missing a hockey game was nothing.

    • bluboo Says:


      If you are looking for a fight, head elsewhere. And take reading lessons.

      I don’t think Tortorella was punished enough, and he wasn’t punished correctly. Maybe he should be arrested AFTER the playoffs and he will probably be sued AFTER the playoffs. I still am not sure that is enough.

      I have stated clearly that the punishment to Tortorella was inadequate. But I have also said Soupy did not act appropriately against the Capitals.

      The suspension was a BS, whimpy move by Campbell but its impact on an emotionally-immature Ranger team was huge. Fining Tortorella and then firing him at the end of the season would not have punished the players for Tortorella’s actions. Read my comment above how a coach’s misbehavior can impact a team such as the 1994 Stanley Cup winners.

  7. Ben Says:

    so lets get this straight, you condemn Torts, the Rangers and all saying this shouldn’t have happened and Torts was in the wrong.

    buuuut, he shouldn’t have been suspended for hitting a lady in the head with a water bottle, then putting a stick through the glass and waving it around like an idiot?


    oh, and how can you be a Rangers, Bruins and Edmonton fan? is that even allowed?

    • bluboo Says:

      I have explained this above … Tortorella was not punished enough BUT he was also not punished properly. The suspension punished the players, not Tortorella.

      Tortorella should be fined and fired after the playoffs. I hope is he arrested and sued. This is not because I dislike Tortorella … it is because it sends the right message to kids about accepting responsibility for your behavior.

      The only thing that is not allowed is being a fan of the Rangers, Islanders and Devils … that would be reminiscent of “The Three Faces of Eve” … good hockey is good hockey.

      As a native New York, the Rangers were my team since 1968. WSBK from Boston was one of the first “superstations” during the birth of Cable TV in the 1970s, and I was able to get Bruins games (I also loved Phil Esposito and Bobby Orr). Watching the Oilers play was watching true mastery, and we will never see a player like Gretzky again.

  8. […] regarding Rangers Head Coach John Tortorela’s one-game suspension for his stupid antics (see Soupy Blows It Again. My argument, although admittedly not clear in the article but later clarified in comments, is that […]

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