| Ignoring distractions can start
Time to focus on the task at
I hate Steve Ott. Those are four words that have
been muttered more than a few times at HP Pavilion. I hate Steve Ott, because
the Sharks can't seem to ignore him. The Dallas Stars uber-pest offers little
in terms of scoring punch or defensive prowess, but hes turned annoying
Sharks players into an art form. And for some reason, there are current San
Jose players who dont seem to be familiar with Otts history as
I hate the fact that no matter what Otts done
in his past, some Shark players cant seem to get past the fact that his
game is all about distracting them from theirs. Hes mastered the art of
understanding the boundaries of NHL referees, and what they will let him get
There are players that just assume that if on-ice officials
dont deal with Ott, its up to them to take care of him. The reality
is theres really nothing to take care of. If youre a professional
athlete, you should be able to discern a distraction from an action that
Rookie defenseman Jason Demers has emerged as the focal
point of every hockey pundit in North America over the weekend, when he
responded to Otts antics by throwing a punch that failed to connect with
the Stars forward. That punch, if you havent already seen, instead
connected with linesman Brian Machs head.
The fact that Demers
felt inclined to throw a punch at Ott validated his role and demonstrated that
Demers needs a history lesson. Three years ago in the Western Conference
Semi-Finals, Ott and the rest of the Stars bounced the heavily favored Sharks
from the playoffs by forcing San Jose to focus on something other than playing
Its not like Ott plays in the Eastern Conference
and they only see each other every other year. Ott plays in the same division,
which means they play each other six times a year. His shtick hasnt
changed in the eight years hes been in the league; yet opposing players
still find it necessary to respond.
The Sharks seemingly dodged a
bullet on Saturday night, after Demers unloaded his overhand blast to Mach.
Demers was remorseful the second the punch landed, as he apologized to the
linesman multiple times as he was escorted off the ice. Demers could have
easily received a significant suspension for striking an official, but the
league appears to recognize that the punch wasnt intended for Mach.
That aside, the league could have unloaded on Demers, and few would be
able to argue with any such sanction. How do you defend against the fact that a
player struck an official. Whats worse, the incident could have cost the
Sharks beyond the eventual loss to the Stars on Saturday.
if Demers receives a lengthy suspension right as the Sharks hit the home
stretch in the regular season schedule. A schedule loaded with nine of sixteen
games against division opponents.
Three of those games come against the Stars. Those
same Stars trail the Sharks by a mere three points in the standings. Another
three points separates the Sharks from 8th place in the Western Conference
standings, so every point counts from here on out. San Jose doesnt have
the luxury of letting a game or two slip because they felt the need to settle a
score with an agitator.
If theres one thing you can take to the
bank, its the fact that Ott wont change his approach against the
Sharks. He wont change that approach for any division rival. His game
seems to get edgier as the playoffs get closer. He earned a major penalty for
spearing Los Angeles Kings forward Kyle Clifford on Monday night in the Stars
4-3 overtime win, to go with a 10-minute misconduct.
isnt a run of the mill penalty in the NHL, but seems appropriate coming
from a player like Ott. San Jose will get two more chances in the regular
season to show that they can ignore him. They can really show that theyre
focused on one goal.
Get that job done, and there wont be any
reason to hate Steve Ott, because hell just be another novelty player
that didnt get in the way.
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