Sometimes it would be easier if there was no context, just the black and white of it, or at least what we assume to be the black and white of it.
Without such context, it would be easier to start swinging for the fences in the dismal encounter between veteran Arizona Coyotes forward Jay Beagle and young Anaheim star scorer Troy Terry late in the game. hands down Friday by Anaheim and nearing the end of a game in which Terry’s dynamic teammate Trevor Zegras scored a flashy lacrosse-style goal against the grossly underhanded Coyotes.
Without context, it would be easy to join the scrum burying longtime NHL player and Arizona analyst Tyson Nash who turned a fairly typical late-game scrimmage into a cause celebre by saying that in ” perfecting themselves,” the young Ducks should have expected a punch in the mouth, which is what they got thanks to Beagle.
But then we called Nash and were reminded that one of the reasons it seems so difficult for the game to chart a clear path in terms of identity is that it’s not black and white. It’s complex.
There is no reason for a young man who has never even taken off his gloves to be manhandled to the point of not being able to dress for Sunday’s game against Edmonton.
Surely we should all agree on that, right?
But as to how it got there? And how does this whole situation speak to the nuances of the game? Well, let’s start with Nash, who’s a little nervous about the incident considering he’s been blasted from every angle on social media for his comment, including a vigorous plea for his job.
But Nash is also happy for the chance to add context or at least rationalize what happened from his vantage point standing between the benches at ice level.
First, Nash would like to dispel the misconception that he doesn’t have time to be skilled in the game.
“I’m a big fan of the skill,” Nash said. In fact, he wished people had watched the whole show when he and veteran Matt McConnell were talking about Zegras and Terry.
“We literally stroked them throughout the game, from start to finish,” Nash said.
As for the lacrosse-style goal — some call it “The Michigan” — which has become a fad among some of the game’s talented young stars over the past two seasons, Nash said he loves it, and his goal call reflects that too, he said. In fact, the idea that the goal was somehow the catalyst for what happened towards the end of the game doesn’t seem to be the case at all.
The Ducks and Coyotes are miles away from where they want to be right now. The Ducks saw a terrific start turn into a death march to the end of the season and a fourth straight playoff miss. They were 11 winless heading into Friday’s game against an Arizona team that has sold most of its key assets over the past year and been further crippled by injuries, including the disheartening loss of the talented attacking Clayton Keller with a horrific leg injury. Last week.
As the Ducks built their lead, Nash said the interaction between the Ducks players and the Coyotes became incendiary.
There were tweets from the Coyotes by the Ducks, smirks as the Ducks players passed the Arizona bench as the scoreline got more lopsided, Nash said. The Ducks were enjoying the moment in Arizona and they were letting the Coyotes know it, he added. If people had been in Nash’s place between the pews and seen and heard what he saw and heard, “I don’t think they would have been shocked by what happened,” Nash said. .
With less than six minutes left in the game, Zegras can be seen elbowing a loose puck under or near Arizona goaltender Josef Korenar. This led to Beagle cross-checking Zegras in the back and then hitting Terry, who skated into the crease area and got engaged to an angry Beagle.
What ignited the social media world, however, was Nash’s response to the fight.
Nash rationalized the punches, saying, “That’s sometimes the problem with these young players, you want to embarrass the guys and you want to perfect yourself, you better be ready to get punched in the mouth.” Nash also praised Beagle’s response. “He’s watching these young kids dancing, doing fancy moves,” Nash said.
Does Nash regret his description of what happened? Nope.
He regrets, however, that on live television there wasn’t enough time to put everything into context, with the buildup to what happened towards the end of the game leading to the almost inevitable reaction from the Coyotes. .
“We were like, look at this pass, look at this play, oh my God, hand-eye coordination,” Nash said of their decision in relation to Ducks skills. “But they skate like the Harlem Globetrotters.”
And what was Zegras doing pushing the Coyotes goalie with the game in hand, Nash wondered? It’s the kind of game and the kind of scenario – the game being out of control – that would produce a carbon copy reaction in every NHL rink.
“It’s going to happen everywhere,” Nash said. “If people want to be crazy, why is he (Zegras) on the ice? Why is he stinging the keeper?
In the end, Terry, who according to Hockeyfights.com had never competed in an NHL fight and still hasn’t, ended up paying a physical price he shouldn’t have had, regardless. matter the circumstances.
Both Nash and Beagle have been reviled on social media. And yet Beagle, according to Hockeyfights.com, hadn’t competed in a regular-season NHL fight since 2011. A glue man and much-loved figure in Washington during his long stint with the Capitals, Beagle, 36, approaching the end of his career. career.
“I will say this: Beagle is the furthest thing from dirt,” Nash said. “We are not talking about Bob Probert. We are talking about Jay Beagle.
And it’s unlikely that Beagle took the time to notice who he was hitting.
“He didn’t know who he was up against,” Nash insisted.
Over the years, I’ve always enjoyed my interactions with Beagle, a staple guy in the cap room for many years, reflecting his candor and the respect accorded him by his peers. And likewise, Nash has always been an upbeat guy whenever we’ve crossed paths, which is saying a lot considering the dire state of the Coyotes franchise for so many years.
Terry and Zegras, of course, are the opposite of the NHL spectrum: young, talented, and both were in Vegas on All-Star weekend recently.
Earlier this year, I spent time chatting with Terry and others who knew him well from his breakout season. We then caught him again at the All-Star in Vegas. Thoughtful and introspective, Terry is part of that next generation of NHL stars who need to be enlightened because fans will and should gravitate towards him.
The former US Olympian is a great role model for young players around the world and, needless to say, he’s a terrific player.
And it is not just individuals who are paying the price. It’s the league. It’s the Arizona Coyotes. That’s the game.
Perhaps the lesson here is that words matter.
Nash is like all local NHL color analysts, providing context and, of course, entertainment for local teams in their markets. Their voices are important because they help fans connect with their teams and their voices are especially important in markets that are smaller or struggle to create and maintain a foothold in those markets like Arizona. It’s a tightrope act for most players in Nash’s position, as they’re expected to color their comments to keep the home team in as positive a light as possible.
To be unaware of this well-defined line is to court unemployment. That doesn’t excuse Nash’s choice of words in this case, which brought unwanted attention to a franchise that has worked diligently to rewrite its narrative. The Coyotes helped build NHL-related documentary as part of an innovative program opening doors for BIPOC coaches to get a taste of NHL coaching (we talked about it here).
The team did things internally, like bringing Phil Kessel home after a road trip for the birth of his first child. They are showing courage by playing for the next few seasons at the Arizona State University multiplex. They work to create stronger bonds with different groups in their community.
This incident erodes that work, that goodwill. It is reality. If Nash had chosen different words, if he had been able to set the stage more fully or frame the incident in a different and more precise way, it wouldn’t have become the topic of conversation in the hockey world. .
“It’s live TV, you don’t get to say it all,” Nash said. “(If only) I would have explained to the fans, to the Twitterverse, what happened throughout the game.”
Instead, people latched onto the “skill it up” quip which reinforced the popular theme that besets the league that times have not changed, that the NHL and its teams are backward and unwilling or unwilling. cannot accept change. Besides the physical price that Troy Terry has paid and is paying, it’s also a price paid on a larger canvas. And that’s more than a little unfortunate.