Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Was It That Christensen Said It Or That It Was About Avery That The Fan Reaction Happened?

I have breached this kind of topic before in discussing the Michal Rozsival booing that was going on at MSG even when Rozsival was playing excellent hockey earlier this season and now I am left wondering it again today in regards to the Erik Christensen - Sean Avery media incident.  For me the Rozsival booing was just because he was Rozsival and the fact that it was Callahan who called the fans out on it meant it was ok because he is Callahan.  In that situation I asked if it has been anyone other than Ryan Callahan if they would have not only gotten a pass from the fans, but gotten credit for it showing leadership.  For me the answer is no, but instead of dissecting it in that scenario I want to pull it forward to what has gone on the last 36 hours.

All fans have their favorite players for whatever reasons and that is certainly their right as fans to do that.  My issue is that it appears that certain guys get passes where others get slammed and certainly guys cannot have anything said about them without some getting their hair up and being ready to pounce.  So, I pose these two relatively simple questions: 1) If Christensen had been talking about a guy like Rozsival or Eminger who is less liked by fans would the reaction at Christensen been the same? 2) If someone like Callahan had been the one who called out Avery in public would the reaction have been the same?

Personally for me I have the same problem with what was done no matter who did it because as I said when you play a team sport you keep your issues in house and deal with them face to face.  I don’t care who it was it is cowardly in my opinion to take it to the press especially if you haven’t taken it to the player first.  I believe moves like that mess with team unity and trust for the guys they have to rely on each time they take in this case the ice. 

In terms of how I perceive the reaction writ large, I do believe the answer to both of those is yes.  If the comment Christensen was making to the media was about Rozsival doesn’t shoot the puck on the power play or how our defense is soft in protecting Henrik, or Frolov finally hitting the barn from inside or Drury not scoring enough to be worth his contract then I think the comment is not only not derided the way it has been, but it is cheered because they agree with it.  For me this creates a problem because the objection is no longer about the principle of keeping it in the room, but whether or not they agree with what is being said and caring who in particular is being called out. 

In terms of the second question if it had been Callahan who called out Avery it would have once again been taken as leadership instead of as many termed it throwing a teammate under the bus.  Once again we have a principle problem because if the person saying it is what determines the reaction to it being said, it is no longer really about what is said.  In this case because it was a fight I think some other guys like Brandon Prust could have gotten away with saying something because he is fan favorite and has credibility stored up for how much he defends his teammates on the ice.  I believe that Christensen probably being the softest guy on the team and giving a critique on a fight had a good deal to do with the reaction as well.

Let me be clear that I have no problem with fans being fans and having favorite players it is the part of sports that keeps people as invested as they are and makes me want to run a site like this in the first place.  All I am saying is let us admit our biases as they exist and then put our opinions on the table with those in full view so that everyone can make their own judgments not only for what happened but our individual takes on the events. 

To me that is the only way to have an open and honest discussion about it.  In that vain I have made numerous jokes about Christensen over the past day including one on twitter that was as follows:
hmm Christensen could stab him in the back while he sleeps. RT @RangersTribune Alexander Frolov's biggest fear is "Avery as a roommate"
Now for anyone unclear on my intent it was a sarcastic joke both at what happened but also at the vehemence I was seeing in the overall reaction to Christensen’s screw up.  The idea that a guy gets cut, benched, booed and the names he was called that I saw over it was something sad for me to witness.  I do believe that large pieces of the reaction are based in the frustration with Christensen’s inconsistent play and the fact that Avery was the target.  In my time on sites and boards of Rangers fans I have noticed there are certain guys who get the fans more incensed against a negative word being spoken of them more than others.  On that list would be Avery, Callahan, discussing Del Zotto’s defense, pointing out a Lundqvist soft goal probably being the most likely to get the claws out.  Again fans will have their favorites but in having your favorites you still have to be as objective as possible and open to legitimate criticism if it is warranted. Dont ever lose the passion that makes Rangers fans great, but let us try and channel it more evenly to everyone who wears the sweater regardless of name and number

End of rant.

Shout-out to prukachu whom everyone should be following on twitter for taking exception to my joke and reminding me not everyone would take it as meant in jest, while channeling me back to this place.

Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments with no restrictions other than keep it clean.