The Art Gallery – Whip It Good

What does every single sports club on this planet from the professional levels to national teams and to even major junior and university ranks all have in common?

Each of them has a fan base.

And what do those all of those fan bases all have in common?

They have a goat.

I mean a horns wearing, target on the back (and front and sides and anywhere else fans can put it) wearing scapegoat. It’s better known to most fans as “a whipping boy”.

Jets fans are of course familiar and given how lame this season has turned out, it’s completely understandable that we would have a handful of players that draw our collective ire.

There are some who I won’t say deserve the abuse Jets faithful give them, but one does understand just by watching them play, why a fan base would collectively question what a head coach would ever see in certain players beyond constantly skating backwards while “defending” or being in the lineup for grit and toughness but not actually being a “deterrent” for on-ice transgressions against more skilled players.

But there are some “whipping boys” that constantly show up in mentions and time lines and hashtags that are flat out baffling to me.

Tobias Enstrom? Granted this hasn’t been his best season and the 10 year veteran is starting to get a little long in the tooth hockey career wise, but as this website has done – multiple times over the last few seasons – we’ve explained just how important Toby has been for the Jets. But even a man such as I who isn’t all that into them darn “fancy stats” can just tell by an eye test (especially this season) that the Jets are a better team with Enstrom than without and it’s not just because the Jets lack depth on defense.

Mathieu Perreault? I kinda get where the frustration with him would be injury wise – he’s only managed to play over 70 games in a season once in his eight year career – but when he is in the lineup and playing with decent offensive teammates, he is dynamite. He’s not ever going to be a top line center, but he can still be a very effective top nine forward and can easily play wing in a top six role or slide into the 3C spot and be very effective there.

And that brings me to my biggest name that makes me go “huh?” and his name usually comes up in the same breath as Perreault… Adam Lowry.

I preface the following by saying that I am admittedly a big Lowry fan – a lot due to the fact he’s a Swift Current Broncos alumni – but the “debate” that rages online over whether the Jets should keep Perreault or keep Lowry as if we can only possibly have either or is a mystery that ranks up there with Stonehenge,

Again I get some of the criticism against him, especially the idea that he has stone hands around the front of the net and hasn’t been great on the power play due to that. I know he draws death glares from fans who can’t understand why Paul Maurice seems to be infatuated with parking him in front of the net on the top power play unit rather than a kid who has 22 more goals than Adam does.

But to me, that’s where I find Lowry gets too much criticism.

Adam Lowry shouldn’t be getting over a minute more of ice time on the power play than Patrik Laine or seeing more time than Mark Scheifele (both of those have happened repeatedly this season) but that’s a fault of coaching and poor player usage. Adam can only control what he does on the ice and while it would sure be swell to see him finish off plays around the net a little more often, I keep thinking about how he’s only 23, in his third pro season, was maybe rushed into the NHL early and ideally should get better next season.

I only hope he’s with the Jets when that happens and I hope Perreault is his linemate.

Are there other targets of scorn from Jets fans that have you personally puzzled? Let us know in the comments below.

Hello Ladies…

Congrats to Les Canadiennes de Montreal for winning this season’s Clarkson Cup and to the Calgary Inferno for an equally fine CWHL season. South of the border, the NWHL Isobel Cup playoffs take place this weekend from March 16 to 19.

If you can get to a game, you owe it to yourself as a hockey fan to watch and support these talented women.

CWHL players do not actually earn a salary for their play – being able to say that they would be paid a fraction of what their male counterparts are paid would be an improvement over their current “per diem” situation. NWHL players have had to endure payroll issues all season as they’ve tried to go the salary route, but funds are limited.

The NHL and NHLPA have been at best “slow” to show support for the women’s game and while I understand it’s not an outright “requirement” for the NHL to lend financial aid to leagues that ultimately compete with the NHL for fan dollars, if the NHL wants to keep up this “custodians of the game” thing they seem to allude to at almost every turn, it would be very much in their benefit for them to put their money where their mouths are and develop stronger partnerships with both female leagues and perhaps even unite them. Something I’ve been told by a few people who know the situation better than I, has less of a chance of happening than Donald Trump admitting he has zero clue of what he’s doing as POTUS.

I’m not saying that the NHL buying in for women would make such a league an automatic success – this is the NHL afterall – but at the very least it would give it a much better fighting chance at survival.

Say what you want about the WNBA, but the NBA has stuck with it through some very tight times and now in it’s 20th season, the women’s basketball league is healthier than ever and has given fans who may not be able to pay top dollar for professional males to at least see world class women’s basketball for half the cost as the men, been able to see something with the NBA brand attached to it and in turn has helped grow the sport’s overall fanbase.

To me, there is no reason why the NHL couldn’t do the same.

In the meantime though, it’s up to fans to get on the bandwagon, make it something corporate sponsors then see and want to be a part of and after all that maybe the NHL comes calling. It’s frustrating that the NHL is more reactive than proactive, but with as high a quality of play as these women have shown, it shouldn’t be too hard for fans to get onside.

Quick Hits

Peter Budaj has the best-diddily-iddily goalie masks in the entire NHL-eeno! Meanwhile the Tampa Bay Lightning are making a hard charge for a playoff spot AFTER GM Steve Yzerman had what was in effect a “clearance sale” of sorts with two key players that had a bit of salary attached to them. The Bolts are also about to get their all-world superstar forward back… That sound you hear is every other team in the east letting out a nervous gulp and adjusting their collar at the thought of having to play Tampa Bay in the playoffs – Especially the Washington Capitals.

Noted goon… Pavel Datsyuk? Who knew he could hit like that?