|Burmistrov, pissed off and silently cursing Noel's name.|
If you've ever wondered what would happen if a pretty good 21-year-old Russian 1st rounder playing for the Winnipeg Jets who allegedly had a threesome1 after The Green Room one night last year got benched... well today, you got your answer - on your very own computer screen.
Even more satisfying would be if you wanted to know what it would be like to bench that same player for four straight games - AND COUNTING *GASP*.
Alex Burmistrov has been benched and people are freaking out. Why? Because unlike Chris Thorburn (who is playing), Alex Burmistrov is a pretty good player. Not only that, but tonight the Jets were coming off a hard-fought shootout win in Toronto less than 24 hours before the puck dropped in Ottawa - against a team in the thick of the playoff chase as well. Hockey teams historically look tired and generally suck in the second game of back-to-back games. The logical choice would be to choose this as the mutually beneficial time to end Burmistrov's "suspension", right?
Apparently not. The Jets played a lousy first period, then showed some resolve and nearly tied the game but ultimately lost 4-1. Fuck, I don't know. I'm 27 and I get tired after playing in the beer leagues. Makes sense to me.
But the thing about this game is that the Jets could have been a little less tired; Burmistrov (and Postma, actually.... nah let's leave him out of this) could have played, adding a little spark and a bunch of dangles that probably would have given the Jets a better chance to win.
Because of this, on Twitter, a "bitches be crazy" melodrama ensued.... except that in this case it was by usually male Jets fans in the 18-40 demographic. Some tweets:
LOL.Good thing we dressed a 4th-line of scrubs that do nothing but cost the team goals.#thorburn #cormier #freeburmi
— Ryan Blight (@arby_18) March 17, 2013
The fact that Patrice Cormier is playing NHL games over Alex Burmistrov right now is a complete disgrace. Embarrassing on Noel's behalf.
— Anthony Capocci (@CapocciJETS) March 17, 2013
So basically the above tweets, times a thousand.23 The same arguments: Jets tired. Burmistrov better than Thorburn, et al.. Which everyone already knows. Meanwhile others "sided" with the coach:
Bottom line is Noel makes out #NHLJets lineup card - do it his way or watch. Burmi needs to learn and accept this. But time to try again Tue
— gary lawless (@garylawless) March 17, 2013
@arby_18 @garrethohl No, I don't think he would have hurt. But helped? Maybe, but if he won't play within the system, he won't play.
— PATRICK WILLIAMS (@pwilliamsNHL) March 17, 2013
Those concerned/aghast at Burmistrov's continued benching have a point. Yes, Alexander Burmistrov is a pretty good player. In fact he's so pretty good that he's even better than Chris Thorburn, Patrice Cormier... and the rest! Everyone accepts this point already - yes, probably even Claude Noel. In fact it would probably be fair to suggest that Burmistrov may be a better player than Jets management give him credit for, as advanced statistics such as CorsiOn - which may not be valued by the Jets - cast him in a favorable light.
Add to this the fact that the Jets were in tough, on the road, with almost no rest, and a fourth line that either sits on the bench or in the penalty box. Playing in the second game of a back-to-back is usually trouble, especially when you're essentially playing with 9 forwards instead of 12. Again, this is a valid point.
Benching Burmistrov against the Senators. Pretty stupid, right? Well, here's the thing...
Nobody knows why Burmistrov is being benched. And if you don't know why, then you're basing your judgments on hypothetical situations. Is Burmistrov being benched because Noel doesn't like the way he hums in the locker room? If so, well, that's stupid. Is Burmistrov being benched because he laughs at and disrespect his coach? If so, bench him as long as necessary. Is Burmistrov being benched because he won't play within Noel's system? That's a little more complicated.
If it is an attitude issue - anything from "LOL. My coach is an idiot" to "I truly want to help the team win but think the best way to do so is by playing my game (not your game)" - then that matter is bigger than 2 points up for grabs on a Sunday afternoon, no matter how much you hate Chris Neil. Long-term considerations should matter a great deal in the decision to play him or not. The timeline for Burmistrov's return is probably dictated more by when Noel judges him to have fallen in line rather than when inserting him into the lineup will provide a little more marginal benefit. Again, IF this were the case, we should be happy that our organization will accept short-term pain for long-term gain.
In the end, it's dumb to fume against Noel and call him a moron if you have no idea what's going on in the Jets locker room. Be a fan. Care. Have opinions. But don't get too worked up when there's a big part of the picture that you just can't see.
* * * * *
As a bonus, this tweet from Adam Wazny (TSN1290, CBC Sports) was pretty beauty:
Re Burmistrov: It's like the time Chadwick caught Youngblood with his daughter in downtown Hamilton. Deano didn't see the ice next game.
— Adam Wazny (@wazoowazny) March 17, 2013
Kind of an explanation here.
1 The bad kind. Well, the kind that's less appealing to me.... I'M NOT GAY.
2 Ryan Blight is awesome. He writes at the excellent Jets hockey blog www.arcticicehockey.com
3 This Anthony Capocci guy.... If you want to, read a dumb article on this Burmistrov benching, without even the common courtesy of post-Green Room threesome allegations, do so at this Bleacher Report article.