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News and Notes: Weekend Round-up

Captaincy, mental health and pride

NHL: Ottawa Senators at New York Islanders Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Another week passes to get us that much closer to the season starting. A few interesting pieces from around the hockey world to kick off another week.

  • The topic of team captains remains a controversial matter especially for teams who have found recent success without any one player sporting the “C”. The Maple Leafs have been making headlines about their captaincy ever since Tavares joined the team and became a competing threat to Matthews for the title. The Senators have long depended on their Captains to find success, most prominently their Swedish legends. So does having a designated captain really affect a team’s performance? More importantly, how does a player “earn” the coveted the title? Is it the most talented player on the team? Most senior? The hometown boy? Newly hired Senators coach has decided to go without a captain for another season, stating that the captain will emerge throughout the year. Given the composition of the team this upcoming season, I have to say I agree with Mr. Smith. It also seems he is putting a lot of pressure on the vets on the team to play a role in protecting the rookies and younger players on the team:

“I think the biggest thing is that we will allow the older guys to mentor these younger guys and blunt the blow until we turn the corner here. After a tough night, I don’t want the young guys having to answer all the questions. The veterans and myself are going to answer to it.” - D.J. Smith

  • After a worrisome video surfaced the internet that involved Capitals player Evgeny Kuznetsov partying with some friends, it was announced Friday that he was banned from participating in international tournaments for 4 years after testing positive for cocaine. The NHL’s reaction to the ban was quite simple: cocaine is not considered a performance enhancement drug hence these results will not affect his NHL career. While Kuznetsov will be meeting with Bettman and most probably be forced to go into a rehabilitation program, is this the best way to deal with the matter? Is the IIHF too harsh with its ruling on the matter? There is a very fine line between what professional athletes should be held accountable for and what should be considered as their right to their personal life; when it comes to the use of recreational drugs, I don’t think the answer will ever be perfectly clear. At this stage, what is clear is that Kuznetsov’s drug use could be a serious issue and looking at punishments is not the important matter; finding him solutions to be better is what matters. Here’s hoping the NHL is really strict on his rehabilitation process; for his sake.
  • I came across this interesting piece from our SB friends at the Arctic Ice Hockey on the topic of the NBA’s new mental health program which now dictates that there be a mental health professional and a licensed psychiatrist available for each team. Looking at how simple the implementation of this new mandate is, it really is a wonder why this hasn’t been put in place across all sports leagues sooner. Having a mental health professional on every team will do wonders to progress the NHL and show real initiative about protecting its players. We have seen so many players struggle in recent years and some were lost too soon in part because they didn’t get the help they desperately needed.
  • Last but not least, the Capital Pride Parade took place in Ottawa on Sunday and the Ottawa Senators were present. Mark Borowiecki and his wife Tara led the Senators contingent alongside the one and only SpartaCat to make a statement about inclusion among their fan base. Joining them as well was Brian Burke honouring his late son Brendan in a Maple Leafs jersey; I don’t think many people were opposed to seeing the blue and white just this one time.