Capitals Collapse

How frustrating for the owner, the players and the fans to be up 3-1 in the series against the Rangers and to lose 3 straight games and lose the series 3-4. The teams were obviously evenly matched. They won or lost each game by one goal and two games went into overtime. Exciting hockey.

Game 6

But game 6 was inexcusable. Did the Capitals think they had it all wrapped up? How could they, they had just let the Rangers back in with an overtime win in game 5 to bring the series to 3-2.  You knew the Rangers were going to fight back. Scoring goals in hockey is tough compared to a lot of sports. So when the Capitals found themselves down by 3 goals, there was serious questions about the ultimate results of the series.

But suddenly they came alive. First Evgeny Kuznetsov flipped a puck from close range up into the top of the net to start the scoring. Then forward Joel Ward poked a rebound back into the goal. So in three minutes they had turned things around and only needed one more goal.

With 2:44 left, there was a penalty called and the Capitals pulled their goalie and put 6 men on the ice. They had 2 shots on goal but both were blocked. The Capitals didn’t get another chance and they lost by 1.

Game 7

It was a sad ending to a great season. New coach Barry Trotz had taken a very good team and made it even better over the season. All the players were playing some of the best hockey of their lives and their record showed it, giving them home ice advantage for the start of the playoffs.

Not only were all the games decided by one goal, but the Rangers only scored one more goal than the Capitals for the whole series, 14 goals to 13 goals.

It didn’t help that the Capitals were playing in Madison Square Garden and not at home. The Rangers had won six straight game 7s at Madison Square.  The Rangers also had the best record for the season by a good margin.

The Capitals star, Alex Ovechkin, took first blood with a goal in the first period. But then they had to spend a lot of energy killing several penalties. With only a few seconds left killing their 4th penalty, defenseman Brooks Orpik messed up a clear attempt. The Rangers took advantage and with some sweet passing got it to Kevin Hayes on the back side who tapped it in for an easy goal.

The Capitals were not able to convert on a power play against the Rangers in the second period. The third period was scoreless for both theams. And then there was overtime. It ended when there was a faceoff in the Capitals end after an icing penalty. They had been great at faceoffs, but lost this one. A shot was taken, a rebound straight to Derek Stepan with an open net and the season was over.

Deflategate appeal

Rebuttal

Patriots put out a rebuttal. They had an interesting explanation for the text by one of the equipment managers who called himself The Deflator. They said he was just referring to losing weight because he was chunky and wanted to lose weight and Deflator was the term he used.

Rebuttal to Rebuttal

In Wells’ rebuttal to the rebuttal he seemed to be saying that The Deflator had even threatened the Patriots with going to ESPN with the story. And if The Deflator was just talking about losing weight as the Patriots say, why did the Patriots suspend him and another equipment manager indefinitely.

Will Patriots appeal?

Apparently it is common for the players’ association to put out a rebuttal, but rare for an owner to buck the league. Normally everything is done behind closed doors. After all, the 32 owners have to get along. The Patriots had one week in which to appeal the decision. Brady appealed. But  why would the Patriots put out the rebuttal if they were going to appeal? It is more likely that this was put out to save face and that Robert Kraft won’t appeal. But why put in things that are so ridiculous as mentioned above that that is what people are talking about and not the reasonable points. And why put it out at all since being defiant and devious is what got the Patriots and Brady slapped much harder than they probably would have otherwise. Judy Battista wrote an interesting article about this.

View different in Boston

Of course, people in Boston don’t see it the same way as the rest of the country. A law professor from Northeastern University wrote an article saying that it would be uncalled for the the first game of the season which is always played by the Super Bowl champions at home to be played without Tom Brady. He felt there was little evidence and that Brady should have been fined but not suspended as punishment for not cooperating with the investigation.

Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe feels that the league is out to get the Patriots for past transgressions and that the punishment far outweighs the crime.

Deal in the Works?

Some of the other owners feel the punishment was excessive as well and there is now speculation that there will be some compromise at the coming owner’s meeting. If a deal is reached, what effect would that have? One article thought it would imply the Patriots’ guilt and it would make the NFL look like it had no valid discipline guidelines. And how would the fans react since the NFL is very publicity conscious? How could they explain a reduction that made sense and didn’t just look like spin control?

The issue with Brady is separate from the Patriots, but we have read reports that the Patriots are quietly looking for compromise and that might include an understanding that Brady’s suspension would be decreased if he dropped his law suit. We will see what happens.

 

 

Deflategate rebuttal

So, the big question is, will the punishment stick? Or will the punishments be reduced or eliminated.

Kraft and Brady dispute the findings

Robert Kraft is not accepting the findings or the punishment. He is coming out swinging. He released a statement saying the Patriots hadn’t tampered with any footballs. He said that they were prepared to accept whatever the league decided was reasonable. But he said that they felt what the league chose to do was completely unreasonable and they didn’t want to accept the league’s decision afterall. And, oh by the way, Brady is a good guy and is being unfairly dumped on.

He said everything was circumstantial evidence and that the report was one-sided and that it ignored science in the form of Boyle’s Ideal Gas Law that the Patriots had presented.

Brady and the NFL Players’ Association are challenging commissioner Roger Goodell’s right to hear the appeal. They feel there should be a neutral third party arbitrator. This could be a major change in how things are done in the NFL going forward if they get their way.

Wells rebuttal

Ted Wells, who did the 243 page report on the Patriots for the NFL blasted Brady’s agent and others. He said the owner, Robert Kraft had been happy when he was appointed because he felt Wells was fair. Brady’s agent said the NFL had influenced Wells, which incensed him. He said that the Patriots complained to him that they were caught in a sting operation. He investigated that and found that not to be the case. He said Brady’s agent was just complaining now because he didn’t like the punishment.

Brady and his agent have said that they were forthcoming. Wells said that they were up until when he asked to see the text messages on Brady’s  phone. Wells gave them the option of scrolling through and showing him only the ones that were relevant to the investigation, trusting them to do so. They refused.

He also said he felt that it was proven that the Patriots had deflated balls on purpose. The only reason he used the words “more probably than not” was that those were the words specified to be used in the NFL rules. He also commented on the accusations that the NFL was out to get Tom Brady. He said why would the league want to go after the most popular player in the league, one who could be considered the face of the NFL?

 

Deflategate

Many people said the commissioner of football would not punish the Patriots adequately because he is such good friends with the owner, Robert Kraft. Well, now that punishment has been handed out, what do you think? Do you think Brady’s appeal will get him off?

A bit too tricky?

Many people thought there was too little evidence to justify anything being done to the Patriots or Brady. They thought wrong. They probably would have been right if the Patriots had been forthcoming. But instead they were evasive. They didn’t turn over emails, they gave dubious answers to questions,  didn’t show up for follow up interviews. Generally were either arrogant or evasive. It hurt Brady that he and his lawyers decided not to turn over any of his texts.

The Patriots and Brady have been anything but contrite. They have almost taken the offensive unlike in 2007 when they got in trouble for improperly recording other teams signals. In that case Belicheck was apologetic. In this case, Kraft and others have insisted that they did nothing wrong. He has backed Brady and basically said he is getting a raw deal.

The Punishment

– Brady suspended for 4 games without pay

– Patriots fined $1 million (seems like chump change for an NFL team)

– Lost their first round pick next year

– Lost a fourth round pick in 2017

– Two equipment staffers were suspended indefinitely

Differences of Opinion

Some NFL players and former players thought the punishment was warranted and liked the fact that Brady getting punished sent the message that nobody is exempt from the rules. Others thought the punishment was too harsh and that it was ridiculous to give Brady the same penalty as someone who was using performance enchancing drugs.

Colts and more Colts

The first team Brady will face when he gets back is the Colts who were the ones who complained in a playoff game. At halftime, the balls were tested and most were below the lower limit for pressure. The Patriots said it was because of cold weather. Yet, one of the equipment managers in text messages or emails called himself, The Deflator. Hmmm.

The punishment was based off of a report by Ted Wells, an attorney hired by the NFL to investigate.His report said it was “more probable than not” that the balls were deflated and that it was likely that Brady was aware of what was being done. As a retired NFL football player said, you would have to be an idiot to think that an equipment manager would take it on himself to do something like this. They aren’t going to do anything the quarterback doesn’t want.