Wednesday, February 15, 2012

On Records and open minds

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor

"If the Red Wings get to 20 regulation wins at the Joe during this streak, then and only then should their record not have an asterisk."

That was the Gospel according to Frank Seravalli of the Daily News through his Twitter account yesterday, after Detroit set an NHL record with its 21st consecutive home win, a 3-1 decision over the Dallas Stars.

Thank you, Frank, here's your parting gift. Love to have you back some time...

It's a shame that my two favorite sports -- hockey and baseball -- have seen such shifts in culture and in guidelines over the last few generations so that anyone with an opinion and a forum to release them sees fit not to merely discuss, but to pontificate, in some fashion.

What the Red Wings accomplished on Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena should not have an asterisk beside it, because the club simply took advantage of the rules in place. They did not ask for special consideration, nor did they circumvent those rules or undertake illegal or immoral means (like Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire did with PEDs) to make history.

The record should be celebrated as it stands, and the league will have to make a little room alongside the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers for the Red Wings.

It still galls me that baseball saw fit to debase his accomplishment and place an asterisk beside Roger Maris' record of 61 home runs for so many years, through no fault of his own, simply because the length of the regular season was extended from 154 to 162 games.

It was unfair and unbecoming of an institution that crowed so much about being a pursuit which outwardly promoted fairness, and to suggest a similar entity like the National Hockey League do the same for the Wings thanks to its own rule changes is ridiculous.

The asterisk is such a nasty little notifier, anyway. A lazy man's answer to something which threatens the order he's created inside his own mind.

While we can all debate the merits of the way the NHL hands out points like Halloween candy or the ridiculousness of having the shootout as an effective measure to decide games, there should be no equivocation here.

All records should be celebrated. Ones which occur in different time periods just have to be differentiated.

For instance: the Edmonton Oilers began the 1984-85 season unbeaten in 15 games thanks to 12 wins and three ties. That record stood until the league decided to wipe out the possibility of deadlocks. Then, the Anaheim Ducks began the 2006-07 season by winning 12 games and losing four beyond regulation.

One is not superior to the other. They are both valid, and the record books should reflect that each mark was set under different circumstances.

Comparison to each club and each record within its respective time frame should be encouraged, but dissecting one at the expense of another or slapping up a marker which inhibits discussion takes away from the spirit of debate -- and that's just un-American (or un-Canadian).

While everyone is entitled to their opinion, there's only one proper way to think. So, congratulations Detroit, may you will always stand with the greats.
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