Who is the next Captain of the San Jose Sharks? — Teal Sunglasses for September 7, 2015

So who’s going to be the next Captain of the San Jose Sharks? Peter Deboer says the team will have one. There’s been a lot of speculation among fans and some of the media that covers the team, but the team itself isn’t saying and I expect DeBoer has his preferences, but won’t know for sure until camp opens and perhaps we get right up to the start of the season.

That said, I think the obvious candidate is Joe Pavelski, and I’m not entirely sure why he wasn’t given the position last season by Todd McLellan. So you can put me in with the majority that assume it will be him. It likely will be and should be.

But what about the alternates? There are a number of options and which DeBoer chooses will give us an indication of his views on this team’s makeup.

Marc-Eduoard Vlasic is one of the players on my short list, as is Logan Couture. Given the team has switched back from “build for the next generation” mode to “we can win now”, does the team give an A to one of the older veterans? I think so, and my vote would go to Joe Thornton.

Could the team instead think about bringing in one of the younger kids into the captain’s circle? Maybe a Matt Nieto or Chris Tierney? I don’t think that’s as likely, but I wouldn’t rule out the thinking.

But my choice would be to go with Pavelski with the C, Joe Thornton with an A, and Vlasic and Couture alternative with the other one.

We’ll know soon what the new coaching staff which, of course, is what really matters.

Voynov and Kane: NHL and Player Discipline

If you’re Slava Voynov or the Kings, things have taken a decidely negative turn. Voynov, who was arrested for domestic violence on his wife, was ultimately pled to misdemeanor charges instead of a felony (which would have guaranteed his expulsion from the US) and spent 45 days in the Seal Beach Detention Center, a low-risk offender facility. As soon as he was released, however, he was picked up by the Immigration Enforcement team and was detained in a federal facility pending a hearing with an immigration judge — which could take months.

This puts his career in jeopardy; ICE’s policies would be to make this kind of detention only if they felt the subject was a flight risk or there was a significant risk of a recurrence of the violence. There also is an implication that they believe the immigration judge is likely to revoke his visa and deport him. The chances of his playing this season are now very close to zero, and the chances he may ever see his suspension by the NHL rescinded and his career rebooted seem slim.

I have no sympathy for Voynov. The testimony in the case and the facts that have come out make it clear this isn’t the first time he’s hit his wife, and that he doesn’t see any problem with doing so. To me, he clearly deserves deportation and loss of his NHL contract, and I hope that it happens. Less clear is what will happen if and when his wife joins him once he’s deported, which seems likely — the violence seems unlikely to stop and is much more tolerated in Russia.

I am generally happy with how both the NHL and the Kings have handled this situation, but there’s a larger issue here, which is that this kind of violence is happening and seems to be ignored or tolerated. While there’s a limit to what the NHL can do about activities in a player’s private life and house, they can take a stronger stand on what will happen to players involved in these situations (mandatory suspensions) and eucational programs.

The NHL is better off without Slava Voynov the person, even though it will miss Voynov’s talent, and the NHL (and other pro sports — I’m looking at you, 49ers) need stronger and more visible no tolerance policies about these kinds of physical attacks by players.

Which brings me to the Patrick Kane situation. While he hasn’t been charged, his alleged rape is still under investigation and it looks like the case is soon going to go before a grand jury. All indications are that Kane is going to end up with charges filed, which implies that the NHL is going to suspend him for the duration.

Patrick Kane has a history of too much alcohol and too little judgement and he’s generally gotten away with it and been allowed to skate away from the problems with little impact — he’s what I call a Peter Pan player, in that his behaviors have been tolerated and covered for because he’s a damned good talent and has never been forced to grow up and be responsible for himself. It’s been a big party for him to date, but now, he’s (allegedly) done something that can’t be easily taken care of, and the penalties for it may be severed. It’s something he should never have done, but the league, the Blackhawks and the teams he played with as a younger player all need to take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask themselves what they ignored or what they could have done to help this kid (or for this kid) to grow up, because that’s what he needed and didn’t get, and indirectly, the coddling and tolerance of his misbehaviors in the past are part of the reason he finally ended up at this point in his life.

We need to let the legal process happen, and he hasn’t been charged or convicted of anything — but if the acts that are alleged are proven in court, he’s committed a serious felony and deserves a serious sentenve, and IMHO, that should mean the end of his NHL carreer.

Overall, the NHL doesn’t have a serious problem with player behavior, but the trends are worrisome: Voynov, Kane, Stoll and Richard and their drug problems these feel like the a bad trend beginning and not isolated instances. I think it’s time for the NHL and the teams to really think hard about their part in all of this, through tolerance or “fixing” minor problems that prevent players from learning the small lessons that help prevent the major ones. If the NHL wants advice on this, they can call major league baseball.

Will the NHL have the guts to make that happen? We’ll see, but I doubt it.

On the other hand, other leagues are much worse. Take for instance the NFL and Cris Carter’s advice to rookies to cultivate a “fall guy” who can take the fall for something a player does (and get paid off for doing so). And that this was done at an NFL mandatory meeting, and that the video was posted on the NFL site, until it was actually noticed and people started yelling about it. Everyone involved (league, Carter, all of their advisors — everyone) deserves to get yelled at for thinking this kind of advice was acceptable, but the fact is, they did and thought it was no big deal which is a big deal, and shows the kind of contempt the league has for everyone around it in that it thinks this sort of thing is fine, as long as it leads to helping a team win. That is having your priorities stuck firmly up your ass, but having watched pro sports for so long, it doesn’t surprise me a bit. But before we feel too superior to the NFL, hockey fans, remember it was this kind of attitude that convinced teams to keep working with Graham James, which allowed him to prey on kids at the junior level for years after there were enough hints that something should have been done.

Just win, baby.

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Teal Sunglasses is written and produced by Chuq Von Rospach. Chuq was a 20 year season ticket holder with the Sharks starting with the franchise’s first season and one of the operators of the Plaidworks Sharks mailing list and many other sports mailing lists on the internet.

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