5 Random hockey thoughts (Bartl’s Blog)

In no particular order, five things I’ve been thinking about this week.

5. Does Donald Fehr have another big defining issue on his hands? – I was thinking the other day about Donald Fehr being in charge of the NHLPA now, while his players and the sport of hockey are on the verge of an issue that could change the game forever. The word concussion is running rampant through the sport, and it seems to be such a pervasive problem that there is no solution.

However, it occurs to me that as head of the MLBPA, he looked the other way while his representatives were destroying their bodies, the record book, their potential Hall of Fame careers, and the reputation of the entire sport during the height of the steroid era. He and his organization did nothing about it, and in fact, fought tooth and nail against testing for PEDs.

Maybe I’m putting a connection where one doesn’t exist, but if the players themselves don’t do anything on their own to at least address the infection of concussions roaming through their sport like the Grim Reaper, there will be another generation-defining issue that he presided over and did nothing to help fix, that threatens the future of the sport and his representatives’ careers. Namely, stop doing crap like this.

4. What’s up Chuk? – Something I’ve always wondered about… only because I saw another player that fits the bill today – is what’s up with all the hockey players with last names of “-chuk”? I can’t really say that I’ve met someone else with a last name like that, but in hockey they’re literally everywhere: Malarchuk, Andreychuk, Sawchuk, Kovalchuk, Boychuk, Babchuk…

I entered “chuk” as a last name on www.eliteprospects.com and it spit out a list of 219 players. TWO HUNDRED AND NINETEEN. that’s amazing. Consider this: two of the most common names in the english language are Smith and Johnson, and their lists were only 464 and 334, respectively, and how common are those names? But __chuk comes up 219? That’s weird to me.

3. As a PR guy, should I worry about players tweeting? – The NHL has recently addressed the issue of players and their twitter accounts, by throwing a blanket over the whole thing and saying ‘just don’t do it on game days.’ To which Sean Avery said he’d set up a fake account and keep tweeting. But then again, if it’s a fake account, I don’t think he’ll be able to get 15,000 followers, nor would it be quite as fun to follow him (presuming you think he’s amusing).

But I’m not sure it’s really something that I can worry about that much. If a player does something silly, like send out tweets defending the honor of Osama bin Laden, I think that’s his problem. I don’t know about this one – never before has it been so instantaneous that a player could get himself in trouble for his foot-in-mouth syndrome. But I think that’s what makes the social media so effective with the fans – that direct, getting-inside-his-head type of connection to the athletes. I think it’s just good to remind all of our players just to think first about what they say or what pictures they post on twitter or facebook.

But then again, I think it’s a good question for everyone to ponder. Only you are in control of the image of yourself that you put out there.

2. Am I the only one who thinks it’s weird to see the Winnipeg Jets being discussed? – I can’t be the only one who thinks about Daniel Berthiaume and Dale Hawerchuk (there it is again!) when they see Winnipeg Jets headlines. But this isn’t Dave Ellett’s Jets. Nor is it Pat Elynuik, Thomas Steen, Fredrik Olausson, Darrin Shannon, Randy Carlisle, Bob Essensa or Teppo Numminen’s Jets. We’re living in the now. And it’s a little weird to me.

1. How does the operation of a minor league hockey team appear from the fans’ perspective? – This one I’ve though a lot about lately. Basically because we are getting emails from fans panicking that we’ve only signed 12 players so far. They are literally asking if we’re going to have enough players to field a team in training camp.

At first this question appears preposterous. Do people REALLY think that we’re not going to have an actual team? Is there an appearance that we will just have a bunch of scrubs on the squad? Maybe it does look that way, I don’t know. I just know how things really operate. That recruiting takes time. That the mail takes time. That players wait until their agents have exhausted all their options. I’m not overly clear on how others outside our office think or perceive the roster-building process.

All I can say is that some of our best players are waiting for FedEx to deliver their contracts as we speak. And you’ll have to trust the coach.


Kevin Bartl is the Vice President of Communications and a broadcaster with the Condors, entering his ninth season in Condorstown. His blog is supposed to come out every Tuesday, if he gets around to it. Follow him on twitter @KevinBartl.