Monday, April 6, 2009

When secrecy becomes insulting

I really couldn't care less if a player's injury is reported as "upper body" even when it's his left knee, or when teams lie about the severity on an ailment.

But Bob Gainey staring at reporters Monday with a straight face and simply stating "I can't verify that" when asked to comment on the RDS report regarding the injuries to Andrei Markov and Mathieu Schneider is a whole other level of lunacy.

And really, at the end of the day, it's basically an insult to the intelligence of your fan base, one who so devotedly follows your every move, and one who legitimately deserves to know if the team's best player and top power play specialist will miss the first round of the playoffs.

Maybe Gainey didn't appreciate the fact his hand was being forced by some pesky reporters, working for the team's rights-holder, no less.

Or maybe he sincerely can't verify the report that Markov is out three weeks and Schneider is done for the year, despite the fact the two were supposed to undergo MRI exams and results from those arrive very quickly if you happen to play for the Montreal Canadiens.

But I don't think anyone with half a brain believes that Gainey has not received a report from his medical staff giving him a timeline on those two players.

Instead of "I can't verify that," Gainey would have been far more honest had he said, "I won't verify that."

He did do everyone the service of confirming that neither Markov nor Schneider will play Tuesday night agianst the Rangers in New York, and a Canadiens spokesman told repoters afterwards that Schneider will in fact be on the team flight to New York. Of course, that could be simply that Schneider would prefer to have his surgery in New York, or there's a specialist there he would like to see, but that's not a detail Canadiens management would ever see fit to share with the public that pays their salaries.

In any case, confirmed or not, it's pretty clear that Markov and Schneider will be out for a significant chunk of time, and the first glimpse of life without them Monday night was not a very pretty one.

A 5-on-3 power play in the first period of this 3-2 loss to the Senators saw Gainey send out Alex Tanguay, Saku Koivu and Georges Laraque with Alex Kovalev and Patrice Brisebois on the points, and Laraque missed a sure goal when he couldn't tap in a perfect feed from Tanguay in front. The power play was disjointed, to say the least, in being shutout on three opportunities for the first time in seven contests.

Brisebois and Roman Hamrlik were the top pairing and did a decent job in an impossible situation, but Brisebois credited the Senators aggressive penalty kill for the Habs lack of success. Except that aggressive penalty kill is a direct byproduct of not having Markov and Schneider on those points, because you can't run right at the puck carrier if you're worried about him moving the puck quickly and finding an open man.

With Brisebois and Hamrlik back there, that concern simply isn't there, and the forwards on top of the PK box can go back to cheating on Kovalev or Tanguay on the half boards and pressuring them into mistakes, just like they were doing before Schneider arrived.

"Andrei’s not there, Mathieu’s not there, so we’re going to have to do the job," Brisebois said Monday night. "We know the power play is a huge asset in our game and we’re going to have to score one or two goals a night if we want to win games."

I'm just not sure how that's going to happen when, essentially, the power play now has to start over from scratch with a week left before the start of the playoffs. When asked how he can re-build a power play at this stage of the season, this is what Gainey had to say:

"We went out and acquired a player like Mathieu Schneider because we felt it was a need that we had. That position on the power play is critical. When both those guys disappear at the same time it hands that responsibility over to other guys, who do their best. But part of the reason our power play was good was because of them."

Thanks Bob. That was enlightening.


Sarah said...

Amen brother!

On one hand, I can appreciate keeping medical information private. I mean, medical info *is* private. But updating the status of an injury an athlete received in a game is not exactly revealing a sensitive genetic disorder or an embarrassing STD.

Unless of course their "injuries" did not occur from the heavy hits into the boards that we all saw and are instead wicked cases of syphilis of the shoulder and knee gonorrhea that they picked up in a seedy part of town. Then I could see some discretion.

Topham said...

What do we fans stand to gain by knowing this information Arpon? More fretting?

Of the two scenarios: 1) confirming weeks out and 2) not confirming anything; only the second keeps opposing teams in the dark and possibly guessing about what their strategies should be.

I fully support the secrecy. I don't find it insulting in the least. I want this team to win and I am not caught convincing myself that they owe me honesty because I have watched them on TV all my life, while paying to go to their arena here and there. In fact, if I felt they weren't doing all in their power to win in the remaining games, I would feel insulted.

Long live the secrecy...

Arpon Basu said...

If you honestly believe not giving a timeline on either injury provides some degree of competitive advantage to the Habs, then that's your right and then the secrecy is indeed justified. Personally, I don't think it changes a single thing, especially when a report is already floating around out there from a pretty credible source. This wasn't Jean Perron reporting. If Markov can be back for the first round, great, don't say anything on him. Or better yet, say that. But if Schneider is indeed having surgery I see no benefit to hiding that.

Sliver24 said...

I think the secrecy is silly. What will eventually matter is who is on the ice. I don't think Claude Julien is going to make major changes to either his lineup or game plan for Thursday nights game based on whether either of Markov or Schneider play. Minor tweaks maybe, but nothing bigger than telling his forwards to challenge the D both at even strength and on the PK. Those types of instructions can be issued on the bench.

As for the powerplay, I was extremely disappointed to see Gainey blow the whole thing up without giving his regulars a chance to make it work with the new guys on D. I realize that two of the three most important part of the power play but I'm not sure how replacing the fourth and fifth with career fourth liners is going to make matters better.

Put the regulars forwards out there with your two best d-men. If anything I can see replacing a blueliner with someone like Tanguay. But Laracque on the PP? Really?

I would have preferred to see a steady hand when trying to maintain some of the momentum the powerplay has gained in the last few weeks. Instead we saw almost immediate panic which no doubt rubbed of on the players.

B B said...

How is Price? Recovered?

Anonymous said...

i'm with topham. fine, maybe gainey could've enlightened us as to whether or not these guys will be back for the remaining reg. season games but keeping their availability for the playoffs quiet makes sense to me.

the pp was blown up because we're still punishing andrei kostitsyn. get him in the lineup for heaven sakes. any word on sergei?

the lineup we have can get two pts. in three games. they just have to do it. asap.


Anonymous said...

I fully support the privacy/secrecy and don't feel fans need to know anymore than they already.

Sliver24 said...

Bob.....? Is that you.....?