Thursday, February 20, 2014

John Tavares. Bluster and hypocrisy

New York Islander star player John Tavares got his knee torn up while playing for Team Canada in a game against Latvia. He's done not only for the Olympics, but the rest of the NHL season.

Though the Islanders are pretty much bottom feeders in the NHL these days, General Manager Garth Snow was pissed at losing his "franchise" player. And some scribe from Newsday (evidently an Islander fan himself) named Arthur Staple couldn't wait to further publicize the GM's rants.

Snow thinks the IOC (International Olympic Committee) should pay for Tavares' contract because he got injured while participating in the Games. Further, he maintains the Olympics want all the benefits NHL players can offer them, but won't take any responsibility if something bad happens. Staple stepped up to be his mouthpiece.

Well, guess what? Garth can quit with the Snow job and somebody needs to staple Arthur's lips, and fingers together, so he can't talk, type, tweet, whatever. This is all a lot of misplaced bluster, if not outright hypocrisy.

First of all, Tavares wasn't conscripted into mandatory Olympic duty. Obviously, representing his home country of Canada is something he very much wanted to do. In other words, he not only volunteered, but had to work hard to even MAKE the Canadian Olympic team. Star player for the Islanders or not, this was no given. He had to earn it. There's certainly no shortage of very good Canadian hockey players that would give their front teeth, pun intended, to represent their homeland in the Olympics. To them, it's not about the money. It's national pride. And isn't that what the Olympics were always supposed to be all about?

Garth Snow, having been the one that negotiated Tavares' contract in the first place, might want to take a hard look in the mirror. If he didn't want one of his players being subjected to risk of injury while playing in the Olympics -- then he should have included just such a clause in Tavares' contract.

Sure, contractually denying a player the right to represent his own country when the Olympics roll around probably wouldn't fly so well in the court of public opinion. But after all, the Islanders do have millions of dollars invested in this guy.

Thing is -- guys like Snow can't have it both ways. It really is a shame Tavares got seriously injured while in Sochi. Unfortunately, such things sometimes happen in hockey, as well as some other sports. But it certainly is no fault of the Olympics themselves when they do. The Games merely offer the opportunity for the best of the best to come together and compete every 4 years. If one is good enough and wishes to come -- great. If not, that's OK too. There's hundreds of other people that would jump at the same chance. The Games will go on regardless.

The hypocrisy? Had Tavares not been injured and maybe scored a hat trick as the Canadian team won the gold medal game -- who do you think would be front and center bragging about how proud he was of "his" player having given his best for his home country?

Snow, of course. Who's kidding who here?

As for Arthur Staple? Perhaps he needs a more interesting beat than following the New York Islanders. Maybe getting up close and personal with something far more interesting, say, the Bulgarian curling team, would inspire him to greater journalistic inspirations.

But for now -- he just needs to zip it.

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