Jan 12, 2012, 3:46 PM EDT
It’s been an unsettling last few days for the Winnipeg Jets. On Tuesday, head coach Claude Noel ripped Evander Kane for his lackluster play in a 5-3 loss to Boston. On Thursday, a visibly dejected Kane responded to the criticism, noting that he and his coach hadn’t spoken since the game.
This prompted some head-scratching. Why did Noel go after Kane — Winnipeg’s leading goalscorer and arguably best player this season — in such an aggressive and public manner?
Noel’s response was an interesting one. He blamed the media for provoking him.
“You guys are very good at provoking emotions,” Noel explained. “That’s what you do. And when you get caught, you pay the price. So it’s something that I’ll be ready for next time.
“I would sooner deal with the players face to face which is where I do it. The media isn’t the forum for me to do it…the media isn’t the forum for me to deal with players that’s just not where it gets done. That’s not a motivating place.”
It’s a nice theory, but ultimately flawed. Noel could’ve used media provocation as an excuse if this was the first time he’d publicly blasted his team, but this ain’t exactly a first-time thing (see here and here). If anything, Noel’s played the public lambasting card too early and too often; his infamous “Why are you, an NHL player, playing like an American league player?” quote came just three games into the season.
It’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out. The Jets have been a wildly inconsistent bunch, but are still in the thick of the playoff race, thanks in large part to their outstanding home record. Noel’s abrasive style has surely rubbed some players the wrong way and with Winnipeg legend Randy Carlyle still looking for work, one wonders if Noel’s next public shaming might be his last.
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