The Tale of Two Games

May 23, 2010 | The Pulpit

Last night I was glued to two games. One was the 4th game of the best of 7 Eastern Conference Finals pitting my Montreal Canadiens Vs. the Philadelphia Flyers and the second match was the Champions League Final featuring my Internazionale Milan taking on Bayern Munich.

Both games were played at a defensive pace and did not feature much action. Bayern really never had a great chance to score against Inter as the Milan midfield and defense continuously stifled the forward movement from Munich. The Canadiens never got it going in Montreal with a paltry 17 shots on goal with only 1(!@#$%&?) coming in the second period as the Flyers clogged the neutral zone and never gave the Habs a chance to break through.

Both victors featured suffocating play and the opposition could not find the answers in what were for certain the biggest football match of the day and a series turning game in hockey.

Jose Mourinho, who I am not particularly a big fan of has played this kind of game his whole career and worked it to perfection in Madrid helping his owner Massimo Moratti take home the Trophy 45 years after the last European Victory for the Blue & Black.

Peter Laviolette coach of the Flyers has done the same throughout the Flyers play-off run and outcoached Jacques Martin who is also a defensive expert in the same style that led Mourinho to the title.

The big hero for Inter on the pitch was Argentine striker Diego Milito, who amazingly may not make the final roster for Maradona’s national team in the upcoming World Cup. Another important note to take into account was the lack of Italians on the Inter squad. There were all of 3 who dressed, backup ‘keeper Francesco Toldo, Marco Materazzi wo cam in as a late sub and the ever controversial Mario Balotelli. There had been harsh criticism leveled at Inter for not having more Italians on the team and criticism that I very much agree with.

How is it that Inter does not have one starting Italian? I think it is pathetic since they should have the pick of the crop. Yes they won the Champions League and yes Inter fans including myself are thrilled, but something has to be said of a side that has homegrown talent on the pitch. I believe that is one of Roma’s strengths getting to see Francesco Totti, Danielle de Rossi and Luca Toni all playing together in Rome, there is something special about that. Period.

The Habs are unfortunately in the same boat as Inter with a grand total of 2 (!) Quebecois born players in Maxim Lapierre and Marc Andre Bergeron (who was glued to the pressbox for many games this season). This is unheard of! How is it possible that the Candiens have only 2 homegrown players! Something here has to be fixed!

Taking a look back in time both the NBA and NHL(especially the Canadiens) were able to keep local talent at home and build around such players. For example Wilt Chamberlain was a Philadelphia product and was able to be drafted by the Philadelphia Warriors because of territorial rights. The same is true with a player like Guy Lafleur for the Habs back in the 70’s. More recently Jason Heyward a local Atlanta product was able to be picked by the Braves and stay at home.

I believe there is huge merit to having players going to their local clubs and the professional leagues should look back into changing the drafting system to allow home teams exclusive access over local talent. Yes the argument can be made that back in the day of Wilt Chamberlain this system was desperately needed in order to help attendance out, but I think this will help inject new life into many franchises who are struggling at the gate and on the field of play.

Well, at least I got to see one of my teams win last night!

Thoughts from the Pulpit

1) Dice K-Daisuke Matsuzaka of the Boston Red Sox came within 4 outs of a no-hitter yesterday against the Philadelphia Phillies. It was interesting to finally see some of his ability back in working order after an injury riddled 2009 season, the highlight of last year being the MVP in the World Baseball Classic for the Champions Japan.
2) Will San Jose show up in game 4 Vs. the Blackhawks in Chicago? Or will they go out with a whimper. Joe Pavelski, Joe Thorton and Evengi Nabakov have been no shows in this series as Jonathan Toews is running away with the MVP award scoring a point in 12 straight play-off games.

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