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Friday, May 25, 2018

About that Tom Wilson/Braydon Coburn fight in game 7 of the Capitals playoff series

From my daughter, a fan of multiple Washington-area sports teams in spite of an upbringing that ignored everything other than the Redskins. She's posting at:

Video of the fight is at the bottom of this post.

Caps fans are still walking on air after the team finally overcame their Game 7 demons and dispatched the Lightning to advance to the fourth round, securing the team's first shot at the Stanley Cup in 20 years. It was a dominant performance in all aspects of the game and even the analysts who are paid to pick nits had a hard time finding much negative to say after the final horn sounded. The one controversy swirling among the fan base today concerns the donnybrook that occurred between Tom Wilson and Braydon Coburn in the first period. Was it a heroic showing by the team's enforcer, standing up appropriately for Kuznetsov's dignity and his team's honor? Or was it a bone-headed loss of control by a crucially important top line player who should have known better than to risk ejection in such a significant game? The answer depends on whom you ask.

Wilson has become a controversial figure in the league this year. He was the subject of several suspensions, the most devastating of which came during the Round 2 series against the Penguins, when he missed three games due to a borderline legal hit on Zach Aston-Reese. There have been many other such incidents; brutal hits for which his teammates and fans love him and the rest of league hates him, along with frequent fights during which he cheerfully rains right hooks on his mostly hapless opponents. But is he really a "dirty" player? Is his hard, physical style of play and constant eagerness to drop the gloves inappropriate in today's NHL? Does it put his team at a disadvantage? Some local Caps watchers think his behavior in the Game 7 victory was problematic. I vehemently disagree.

Obviously, hockey has changed since the days of rugged roughnecks playing without helmets. The increased focus on player safety is a good thing, but there is still a place in the game for the men who give a team it's identity and band them together through sheer force of personality and will. The unwritten rules surrounding fighting and hitting still exist, buried deep in the psyche of the game, and although many see players like Wilson as an anachronism, I believe he and others like him still have an important role to play in today's NHL.

With his quick temper and ready smile, Wilson is the heart and soul of this Capitals team. His isn't just a goon, although many of his opponents unfairly characterize him that way. After several years of first fighting for a sweater and then bouncing between lines looking for his place, he took a firm hold on his top line spot this season, playing with two of league's best players in Ovechkin and Kuznetsov. He brings an intangible energy and excitement to that group, and his heavy style of play opens up space for his linemates as adversaries are always wary of hard checks while he's on the ice. Many of those hits skirt the line, and so the positives he brings are tempered by the number of (sometimes costly) penalties he takes. He has also become a legitimate offensive threat, notching a career high 14 goals and 21 assists this year. But it isn't the numbers that tell the story of Wilson's true influence on this club.

That brings us to the incident in Game 7. Wilson has been perhaps a bit less willing than usual to lay heavy hits or otherwise court trouble since his Round 2 suspension, but the situation with Coburn and Kuznetzov begged for intervention from one of the team's leaders. After a bit of standard pushing and shoving, Coburn pulled off Evgeny Kuznetzov's sweater and waved it in Wilson's direction before tossing it on the ice. It was as blatantly disrespectful a display as I can imagine in hockey, with the possible exception of licking one's opponent, but we'll leave that discussion for another day! Wilson and Coburn both went off for two minute minors, but the fireworks came when they left the box and immediately began fighting. 

The fight was fierce and lengthy, with the officials allowing it to continue until Wilson took Coburn to the ice. The very fact that they did nothing to intervene and allowed the altercation to play out for so long tells us everything we need to know about its appropriateness. Coburn was badly in the wrong. By his behavior with Kuznetzov (who was arguably the best player on the ice), he was begging for the comeuppance he received. The referees, hockey men themselves, recognized that and allowed Wilson to deliver the much deserved beatdown. Both players were then penalized with matching majors for fighting and Wilson was not ejected, further reiterating that the officials did not see Wilson's aggression as being out of line.

Sports are a fiercely competitive enterprise. The athletes who compete at this level are more than just a team, they are a family, and the way they perceive themselves is reflected in their play. It's not just about a fight or a hit, it's about the way the players feel about themselves and about each other. It's about their confidence and willingness to lay it all on the line in the most important moments. If they are to respect themselves and demand respect from their opponents, someone must be willing to do what is necessary when things go wrong. Tom Wilson is that and so much more to these Capitals. He is a leader and I truly believe that on the sad day when the Alexander Ovechkin era comes to an end in this town, Tom Wilson will be the man wearing that C on his sweater. We will be lucky to have him.

The fight in question:

Friday links

If there were a kind of a fireman's pole from the moon down to the earth, how long would it take to slide all the way from the moon to the earth?

Why you wouldn't want to drink 19th century milk unless you knew it came straight from the cow.

ICYMI, Tuesday's links are here, and include Arthur Conan Doyle's (creator of Sherlock Holmes) birthday, what to do if you find yourself choking when no one's around, a 1927 documentary on how to dial a telephone, and a gallery of photos from the Halifax explosion - the naval accident that erased an entire city in Canada.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Tuesday links

Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, was born on May 22, 1859

Exercise for Women in the early 19th Century

What to do if you find yourself choking -- and no one's around.

1927 documentary on how to dial a telephone.

Gallery of photos from the Halifax explosion - the naval accident that erased an entire city in Canada.

Remembering the ‘Knocker-Ups’ Hired to Wake Workers With Pea Shooters.

ICYMI, Monday's links are here, and include the invention of the baby carrot, phrases commonly used today that come from obsolete technologies, a device used to resuscitate canaries in coal mines, Ziploc bag engineering, and the guy who makes the world’s best paper airplanes.

Monday, May 21, 2018

1927 documentary on how to dial a telephone

Model 102
I'm always fascinated by the technology of thisgs tha we take so completely for granted - the development of the telephone is an excellent example.

The rotary dial is a device mounted on or in a telephone or switchboard that is designed to send electrical pulses, known as pulse dialing, corresponding to the number dialed. The early form of the rotary dial used lugs on a finger plate instead of holes. 

The modern version of the rotary dial with holes was first introduced in 1904 but did not enter service in the Bell System until 1919. The rotary dial was gradually supplanted by Dual-tone multi-frequency pushbutton dialing, introduced at the 1962 World's Fair, which uses a keypad instead of a dial...

Older candlestick model
The Model 102 telephone (B1 mount/set) was Western Electric's first widely distributed telephone set to feature the transmitter and receiver in a common handset. Prior models had been of the "candlestick" type, which featured a transmitter fixed to the base, and a receiver held to the ear. The 102 was manufactured between 1927 and 1929.

More on the history of these telephone models at youtube.

via Kottke.

Monday links

The Guy Who Makes the World’s Best Paper Airplanes.

The Invention of the Baby Carrot

Phrases commonly used today which are derived from obsolete technologies.

This device was used to resuscitate canaries in coal mines.

The Surprisingly Complex Design of the Ziploc Bag.

ICYMI, Friday's links are here, and include medieval fitness programs, an interactive map showing all of the roads leading to Rome, lost survival tips from 100 years ago (with illustrations), and the Great Sperm Race, scaled up to human size (plus bonus Monty Python).