Back in the day, I used to do a series of posts about whatever the topic of the day or week happened to be that had the Team of 18,000 talking. This seems as good a time as any to start that back up.
If you have missed the story, you must have been living in a cave in Tora Bora, because I wasn't even in communication range and heard about it. Russo wrote an article and a blog post about it, and Wysh from Puck Daddy has his take on it as well.
Since this is a Minnesota Wild issue that will have fans talking, let's take a walk through all sides and open it up for discussion. Make the jump and let's discuss.
Alright, for those that choose not to read the Russo info nor the Puck Daddy post, here is the brief rundown. Petr Sykora is not happy about being a healthy scratch for the past two games, and most likely is not happy about only playing fourth line minutes in the game he has played in since returning from a concussion.
In Saturday night's game against the Hawks, Sykora was made to skate warm-ups despite the fact that he was told he would not be playing. Russo tweeted that the Wild were treating Sykora "like a rookie." To that, Sykora's agent, Allan Walsh tweeted that the Wild were treating Sykora with "less respect than a rookie."
So here we are. Russo makes a comment on Twitter that in his blog post he says:
Whether that was appropriate of me to say or not, I said it and I said it because I know the veteran of five Stanley Cup Finals and 900-plus regular season games was told that he had to skate warmups even though there was no intention of playing him.
On this, let me say, Russo has every right to make that tweet. I have not heard anyone going after him for doing so, but let me preempt that silliness by reminding everyone that comments like this are why Russo is one of the best hockey writers on the planet. He does not have to hide his opinion just because he is an objective reporter. Comments like his tweet are the reason Russo's Rants is one of the best and most popular hockey blogs ever made.
Moving on to Mr. Walsh. Before we get to whether or not I agree with him, let me stick up for him. He has a first amendment right to say just about anything he wants. He also has mastered the art of incorporating the use of social media into the representation of his clients. Walsh has a duty to promote his clients in whatever means he deems appropriate. He has no allegiance to the team or to the fans, only to his client. Love it or hate it, it is what is it is. Agents represent players, and they can do so however they and their client choose to do so.
Walsh being upset his client is not playing is perfectly legit to me. Sykora needs to play to re-establish himself in the NHL, and we do not know what promises were made to who to get him to sign here. I also do not know if Sykora is actually upset about anything. I trust that information will likely be kept private, but there has certainly been some bubbling all season.
Do I agree with his latest tweets? No I don't. Sykora is not being disrespected by being sent out for warm-ups. If he was sent out there, there had to be a reason for it. My guess is to make the Hawks second guess their line up, and make them think Sykora was playing, making them adjust for him rather than Earl. Perhaps is all I am saying. It's like icing the kicker in a football game. Does it work? Not usually. Professional athletes and coaches should be prepared to play against whatever line up shows up, and not worry about what the other team is doing.
If Sykora is upset about something, he needs to man up, walk into Todd Richard's office and have a conversation. Man-to-man. Get it taken care of and move on. This is not the coach's responsibility to go to the player because of something that was said in the media or on Twitter.
Richards cannot spend his day worried about what Alan Walsh or Michael Russo or Bryan Reynolds happen to be saying that day. He has a team to run, and he has to put the line up on the ice that he feels gives them the best chance to win. As much as Walsh has no allegiance to the Minnesota Wild nor their fans, Richards has no allegiance to Alan Walsh. Richards likely could not care less about what Alan Walsh thinks of him nor his line-up decisions. At least, I hope he doesn't. That is Chuck Fletcher's job, not Richards'.
Getting down to the nitty gritty here, this is a situation that likely has some substance behind it. Sykora certainly has a beef and Russo is not going to report things just to sensationalize and sell papers. Walsh needs to sensationalize it because that puts his client in the headlines in the best light possible. Richards needs to keep his cards close to his vest and keep it an internal matter, and the media needs to push him and all other parties for as much information as possible.
Everyone here is doing their jobs exactly how they are supposed to do it except one person, and we don't even know for certain that he has a problem. That person is Peter Sykora. If he has a beef, and again, that has not been confirmed, he needs to deal with it. He is not from Minnesota, and thus should stop with the passive aggressive BS. If he addresses it with the coach and he still gets a seat upstairs, then he needs to be a man about it, take his seat, and shut his mouth. (Which seems to be exactly what he is doing right now.)
This is a tough situation because everyone wants to find a good guy and a bad guy. Is Walsh wrong? Is Sykora a whiner? Should Russo have made that tweet in the first place? None of it matters.
We do not know for sure that there is a beef. Russo will work the story, as will everyone else. It certainly has enough head on it now that it will not be ignored. We have yet another situation that has been built up without a concrete foundation.
Breaking it down further:
Is Walsh wrong to tweet what he thinks? No. Is he doing his job? Yes. Do I agree with his comments? No.
Is Russo wrong to make his tweet? No. Is he doing his job? Yes. Do I agree with his tweet? No.
Does Sykora have a beef with Richards? Unknown. Is there grounds for one? Sure there is. Is Sykora doing his job? As best he can right now, yes.
Has RIchards done anything wrong? Absolutely not. Is he doing his job? Absolutely, yes.
Is there more to it than we know right now? You had better believe it, but until we have more information, no one has done anything out of the ordinary, and no one has done anything wrong.
Enjoy the rest of the day folks, Stanley Cups champs in town.