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For the minimal ethics of blocked shots and the importance of David Savard reviewed and corrected
David Savard will spend the next two months out of action following a blocked shot with his now fractured hand.

All hail his courage, self-sacrifice and sense of sacrifice for a cause greater than himself: the team.

It’s all very noble.

It’s a bit like the soldiers who sacrifice themselves for the nation and whose courage we’ll be saluting once again on November 11th.

But, considering the risks, how good an idea is it to stand in the line of fire of opposing players when there’s already a goalkeeper better equipped and equipped to do the job?

Is there a guideline to be drawn somewhere by management, or is it just a matter of instincts and personality in the players?

Can we establish an ethic for blocked shots?

Without saying that individual personalities and instincts have no bearing on the matter, it seems to me that a general (and not absolute) guideline based on evidence and logic should be given by management to guide their players a little better.

Yes, it goes fast. No, we’ll never be able to prevent all injuries. And yes, decisions have to be made in a fraction of a second. But we’re talking about top athletes who do just that, make decisions in the heat of the moment while keeping the team’s general guidelines in mind.

So why should blocked shots be any different?

Here, in question-and-answer form, are what I feel would be a more rational approach to blocked shots, guidelines that would form a kind of internalized checklist for players.

1. Is the defensive player in a vulnerable position in relation to the shooter?

On a powerful slap shot, if the shooter is at a dangerous distance, like, just far enough away that the puck might hit something other than the defending player’s pads, the defending player shouldn’t get in the way of the puck, let alone, literally, play goalie (like Savard).

The risk of long-term injury is simply too high.

2. Is the goalie in a position to make the save?

The defending player usually has a fairly clear idea of the goalkeeper’s position. If the goalkeeper is in a position to see the shot clearly and make the save, it makes no sense for the defending player in a vulnerable position to place himself in front of a powerful shot.

Tasse-toé, you’re not equipped for that!

Would you go to war with a butter knife?

Would you launch yourself into the void with a too-small parachute?


What’s more, if you don’t block the shot, you run the risk of just blocking your goalie ‘s view!

He’d be better off neutralizing opposing players and/or grabbing returns near the net.

3. What’s the score? And what time is it?

If the defending player finds himself in a clear winner or loser at the end of the match, it’s simply ridiculous to risk injury to perhaps save a goal.

At the start of a match, when the score is tied or close to being tied (0-0 or 1-0), it doesn’t make sense to risk injury either. The player will be more useful on the ice than in the infirmary if he wants to help his club win.

If the score is close at the end of the match, we must always rely on the judgement of the defending player, depending on the position of the shooter, the position of the goalkeeper, the type of shot, etc. But even in these situations, it’s important to remember that the goalkeeper is not the only one involved.

But even in these emergency situations, where the call for sacrifice is generally greater and the survival instinct wants to take over, all organizations and players must remain aware that the loss of a key player in the long term is generally more costly than the loss of one or two ranking points, especially at the start of the season when clubs must, week by week, position themselves favourably for the playoffs.

Duty or consequences?

In the final analysis, the morality of duty (“if you’re in a position to block a dangerous shot, you MUST”) and good intentions must be set against the utilitarian morality of calculating possible consequences (does the END justify the MEANS? is it worth the risk? etc.).

And, as a general rule, when it comes to managing organizations and their workforce, the latter should prevail more often than not.

Of course, in the playoffs, in a do-or-die match, the “general rule” may take over, and you have to take all the risks (or almost all the risks) to win, and winning becomes an almost absolute duty, but you get the idea.

Despite all the positive imponderables in the world (esprit de corps, respect for team-mates, honour and reputation of the valiant warrior), these and the possible two points gained in a match cannot be compared to the many more ranking points lost following the loss of an important player…

Which brings us to point2!

Is David Savard really that important to the CH?

No one would argue that Savard isn’t an important player for the Tricolore.

He’s a respected leader in the dressing room, a positive influence on everyone, an intelligent player on the ice and, on a human level, a damn good guy from the outside.

David Savard is a very good field hockey player and an even better human being in appearance.

We love David Savard.

But will his loss necessarily cost many ranking points?

We seriously doubt it.

Savard’s “shared points” would have been 2.3 in 62 games last year. Compared to Matheson’s 5.4 points in 48 games, there’s no contest.

And compared to Justin Barron’s 2.2 points in 39 games, there’s even more reason for serious doubt!

You can also look at it another way if you don’t like advanced stats.

Even if Savard were to allow the CH to pick up a few more points until December, how serious is his loss in a context where the Tricolore aren’t exactly aiming for the Stanley Cup this season?

Having said that Savard was a good leader and role model for the youngsters, is he really that important in the organization’s grand plans?

Look at it this way. If Marc Bergevin hadn’t signed David Savard a few years ago, would Kent Hughes have gone out of his way last summer to get him, or a defenseman with a similar profile?

Not sure, not sure

On the contrary, one might think that in the context of the rebuild, the fact that a talented 22-year-old defenseman like Justin Barron had to make do with a 7th or 6th defenseman role was really not optimal.

Even if he’s still looking to become more reliable and consistent, and needs to show more character or maturity, we’re talking about a highly mobile back with undeniable offensive instincts and a very good shot.

He was even able to produce 14 points in 20 games at one point when given the chance last winter.

Not exactly a celery stalk…

Barron’s progression and the establishment of his value as a player for the CH (or for the rest of the NHL, as decisions will have to be made sooner or later…) is more important in the current context than a 33-year-old David Savard who plays night after night on one of your first two pairs, as noble and valuable as he may be.

If Savard isn’t up for trade this year, he could be in the last year of his contract next year. If healthy, his market value won’t change much in that time.

And if he is healthy, he will be a valuable asset to his buyers.

But injured more often than not, if the CH decides or succeeds in trading Savard before the end of his contract, Hughes would be happy to get a return similar to what he received for Edmundson (3rd and 7th rounds) last summer.

What’s more, whatever happens, it’s also highly unlikely that the Quebecer’s contract will be extended with the Habs.

At least, not as a player!

In short, Savard being a good mentor in the organization and being able to keep a 20-year-old Logan Mailloux in the AHL and an 18-year-old Reinbacher in Switzerland is perfect.

Mailloux and Reinbacher need mileage.

But for him to prevent a Barron – who doesn’t have much left to learn in the AHL – from occupying a decent chair with the CH was problematic. At least, in my eyes.

While we can always say that Barron “just had to steal Savard’s chair”, we all know that’s not really how things work in a hierarchical environment like the NHL.

It’s often when injuries occur that young players take the veteran’s chair, especially at the start of the season.

And for the time being, while it’s sad for Savard and all his many admirers (and I’m one of them), his injury helps the CH solve a small problem in managing and maximizing its roster.

And it (somewhat) helps the organization move closer to even more important long-term goals.

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