Tuesday, November 25, 2008

On the Treatment of Ryan O'Byrne

I think Red Fisher's oft-repeated criticism ("I say NHLers should know when their goaltender has left the net. If they don't, they shouldn't be playing at this level.") was a little harsh. The same lack of awareness that caused Ryan O'Byrne to turn the faces of Habs fans rouge often leads to far more innocuous, but accepted, transgressions—such as too many men on the ice. That the circumstances of this awareness faux pas resulted directly in a fantastical, late-game tying goal is not reason enough to suggest that O'Byrne doesn't belong in the NHL.

Go ahead and hold him accountable for the purse-snatching incident, whatever that was. And hold him accountable for a bad play, too. But if simple mistakes with the puck were enough to get a player bushwhacked back to the bush leagues, Rick DiPietro would be tending goal in the Federal League. And leading it in assists. (For and against.)

I hope Montreal has fun with O'Byrne for a few days, and then realizes that ruining a young player's psyche isn't fun. There's no need to run him out of town, which is what it sounds like some people are expecting to happen. But it also sounds like O'Byrne can handle the abuse.

By the way, I've been a little surprised by how often it's being mentioned that O'Byrne played at Cornell. So I've decided to add a counterweight to a bad press day for Cornell hockey. After six games, Cornell stands undefeated at 4-0-2 (those are ties at the end there, by the way—yes, Virginia, there are still ties in college hockey). The Big Red are ranked 12th in the nation, hindered somewhat in the rankings by a late start in the ECAC compared to the other major conferences (Colorado College and Miami of Ohio have played 14 games). Princeton is ranked 7th and leads Cornell by 2 points in the ECAC standings with a 6-1-0 conference record. The Tigers' one loss? A home defeat to...you guessed it...Cornell.

Cornell has given up five goals in six games. Junior goaltender Ben Scrivens leads the world with a .971 SV% and a 0.81 GAA.

Things will get very challenging for the Red this holiday weekend when they travel out to North Dakota to take on the Fighting Sioux in the Subway Holiday Classic. It will be a tough, two-game test. Play it cool, David Toews!

The Enemy Within


Bryan said...

If I were Guy Carbonneau, I'd have sent O'Byrne right back out there. No better way to forget a mistake and get the crowd off your back than to earn your keep through quality play. But you're right, the media was way harsh, as were the fans. Truth is, a team as good as Montreal should have been up by more than a goal against the Islanders at home. That they weren't and that they lost falls on the whole team, not just one player.

Islanders Outsider said...

I totally agree with you about Carbonneau. There are times when it's necessary to bench a player for a mistake—I don't think that was one of them. I suppose it's possible that Carbonneau thought he was protecting O'Byrne from the wrath of the crowd, but that wouldn't be my first guess.

Dominik said...

Very interesting. Great point about Fisher's line. Now that I pay it more thought, it is awfully glib -- particularly given the chaos just before the play.

I was really surprised Carbonneau didn't put him right back out there. He could have been an OT hero or something. I wondered if he was protecting O'Byrne from fans, but from comments last year and this year, I get the sense Carbonneau gets pissy with certain players in overly public ways.

I know when I sifted through reactions, I was thinking more of collecting the range of thoughts following a historically rare (and bizarre) play, but I'm afraid I may have come across as piling on.

The Canadiens fans' reaction at the end of the game turned my stomach, but obviously they have some on-going issues with him that I haven't paid much attention to.

It's funny, I thought of you since he's a Cornell product, and I actually mentioned Cornell after reading it because I think it's cool a Cornell guy in the NHL!

Islanders Outsider said...

If it's any comfort, I didn't think you came across as piling on. I just thought it was funny that a lot of people seemed to be mentioning he was a Cornell product—but it's a perfectly legitimate way to add background and texture to the story.

And, by the way, O'Byrne is not alone! Doug Murray (SJ) is out there and Matt Moulson has spent time up with the Kings this year. It would be nice to see David McKee and David LeNeveu break through at some point, but they have depth chart issues.

Islanders Outsider said...

And how could I forget to mention Mike Iggulden. I hope he gets a chance at some point.