Lack Of Transparency From Sullivan Typical Of NHL Issue

How many times does a key player get hurt in a playoff series and nobody has any clue when they’re returning? Way too often.

The lack of transparency from coaches is counterproductive. It leaves teams guessing about their availability for a big game. It also doesn’t help the media who covers the sport, leaving fans guessing.

Take tonight’s deciding Game Seven. The Rangers will host the Penguins at Madison Madison Square Garden later. Start time is shortly after 7 PM.

It’s do or die for both sides. Winner advances. The loser goes home. It doesn’t get any bigger than that. Seventh games generate plenty of excitement.

The fans are ready. If only we knew what will happen. That’s the unknown. It’s what makes Game Seven great theater. No matter the sport, drama will unfold with high stakes.

While it’s great to watch, it would be nice if teams were more forthcoming on the status of key players. During the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the physicality intensifies as players do battle.

That can lead to injuries like the one Sidney Crosby suffered during the second period of Game Five. On a tough play, the Pens’ star center took a check from Jacob Trouba who caught him high while going for the puck. After taking a couple of more shifts, he exited the game.

The Rangers would rally for a 5-3 win to stave off elimination on home ice. Afterwards, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan termed the injury to Crosby as “upper-body.”

This is something we’ve been accustomed to. They are never specific when discussing what’s wrong with a player. Even in a world full of gambling and absurd prop bets, there’s no transparency. It’s par for the course.

The dishonesty exhibited by coaches allows them to gain an edge headed into a must win game like tonight’s Game Seven. Gamesmanship is a topic nobody ever brings up. Maybe they should.

Following the Pens’ optional skate this morning in which most players didn’t participate, Sullivan gave the press nothing. In regards to Tristan Jarry, who is likely to return to their net tonight, he called him a game-time decision. Ditto for Crosby and Rickard Rakell.

Despite plenty of hints that both Jarry and Crosby will suit up, the experienced Stanley Cup winning coach wouldn’t tip his hand. Why? Because the NHL allows him to. They won’t do anything to change it.

Whether it’s during the season where Gerard Gallant called an injury to Kaapo Kakko day-to-day at one point (it wasn’t) or in the postseason, the lack of honesty is a disservice to those covering the teams. It is frustrating for fans who can’t get any information.

You’d think the way they hide the status of key players that it was in direct correlation to the Warren Commission. Or the preposterous Magic Bullet Theory. This isn’t the CIA or FBI.

It’s disappointing that you are left guessing whether your favorite players will play in such a big game. Fortunately, I know someone who told me the true status of the key Pens for tonight’s seventh game.

The lying isn’t good for the sport. It wasn’t always that way. But in a world of social media where there are so many false rumors spread (Tony DeAngelo), they’re very careful not to spill the beans.

What does it mean for the Rangers, who will be an underdog despite winning the last two elimination games and playing at home? Nothing.

If they’re truly the better T-E-A-M, they’ll prove it on the ice. That means playing their best game of the series. Especially at five-on-five. An area that’s been suspect.

It means winning enough key face-offs and defending better in front of Igor Shesterkin. It also means getting off to a better start. No matter if Crosby and Jarry play, they have one job to do. The best players must show up. Paging Artemi Panarin.

Win. It’s that simple. A victory would allow them to advance to the second round where the Hurricanes await after taking their Game Seven over the Bruins 3-2 yesterday.

As far as the ill communication coming from the Pens’ end, screw it. The task remains the same. Get it done.

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of Hudson administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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